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Title: Southern Arabia
Author: Bent, Mabel, Bent, Theodore
Language: English
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SOUTHERN ARABIA

[Illustration: Lafayette, photo.

Walker & Boutall ph. sc.

[Signature: Theodore Bent]

London. Published by Smith, Elder & Co. 15, Waterloo Place.]



SOUTHERN ARABIA

BY

THEODORE BENT, F.R.G.S., F.S.A.

AUTHOR OF
'THE RUINED CITIES OF MASHONALAND' 'THE SACRED CITY OF THE ETHIOPIANS'
'THE CYCLADES, OR LIFE AMONG THE INSULAR GREEKS' ETC.

AND

MRS THEODORE BENT

_WITH A PORTRAIT, MAPS, AND ILLUSTRATION_

LONDON
SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE

1900

[All rights reserved]



PREFACE


If my fellow-traveller had lived, he intended to have put together in
book form such information as we had gathered about Southern Arabia. Now,
as he died four days after our return from our last journey there, I have
had to undertake the task myself. It has been very sad to me, but I have
been helped by knowing that, however imperfect this book may be, what is
written here will surely be a help to those who, by following in our
footsteps, will be able to get beyond them, and to whom I so heartily
wish success and a Happy Home-coming, the best wish a traveller may have.
It is for their information that I have included so many things about the
price of camels, the payment of soldiers and so forth, and yet even
casual readers may care to know these details of explorers' daily lives.

Much that is set down here has been published before, but a good deal is
new.

My husband had written several articles in the _Nineteenth Century_, and
by the kindness of the editor I have been able to make use of these; also
I have incorporated the lectures he had given before the Royal
Geographical Society and the British Association. The rest is from his
note-books and from the 'Chronicles' that I always wrote during our
journeys.

I thought at first of trying to keep our several writings apart; but, to
avoid confusion of inverted commas, I decided, acting on advice, just to
put the whole thing into as consecutive a form as possible, only saying
that the least part of the writing is mine.

The bibliography is far from complete, as I can name only a few of the
many books that my husband consulted on all the districts round those
which we were going to penetrate.

As to the spelling of the Arabic, it must be remembered that it is a very
widely spread language, and there are naturally many different forms of
the same word--_e.g. ibn_, _ben_, _bin_--and such very various ways of
pronouncing the name of the Moslem prophet, that I have heard it
pronounced Memet, Mamad and Mad.

I must give hearty thanks in both our names to all who helped us on in
these journeys, and especially to Mr. Headlam, who has given me much
assistance by going through the proofs of this book. Mr. W. C. Irvine has
kindly provided the column of literary Arabic for the vocabulary.

MABEL VIRGINIA ANNA BENT.

13 Great Cumberland Place, W:
        _October 13, 1899_.



CONTENTS

                                                              PAGE
Bibliography                                                   ix

SOUTHERN ARABIA

chapter
     I. Manamah and Moharek                                     1
    II. The Mounds of Ali                                      16
   III. Our Visit to Rufa'a                                    30

MASKAT
    IV. Some Historical Facts about Oman                       45
     V. Maskat and the Outskirts                               63

THE HADHRAMOUT
    VI. Makalla                                                71
   VII. Our Departure into the Interior                        81
  VIII. The Akaba                                              88
    IX. Through Wadi Kasr                                      98
     X. Our Sojourn at Koton                                  111
    XI. The Wadi Ser and Kabr Saleh                           126
   XII. The City of Shibahm                                   142
  XIII. Farewell to the Sultan of Shibahm                     162
   XIV. Harassed by our Guides                                177
    XV. Retribution for our Foes                              199
   XVI. Coasting Eastward by Land                             210
  XVII. Coasting Westward by Sea                              220

DHOFAR AND THE GARA MOUNTAINS
 XVIII. Merbat and Al Hafa                                    227
   XIX. The Gara Tribe                                        244
    XX. The Gara Mountains                                    256
   XXI. The Identification of Abyssapolis                     268
  XXII. Sailing from Kosseir to Aden                          277

AN AFRICAN INTERLUDE: THE EASTERN SOUDAN
 XXIII. Coasting along the Red Sea                            287
  XXIV. Halaib and Sawakin Kadim                              298
   XXV. Inland from Mersa Halaib                              303
  XXVI. Mohammed Gol                                          309
 XXVII. 'Dancing on Tom Tiddler's Ground, Picking up Gold'    313
XXVIII. Behind the Jebel Erba                                 327

THE MAHRI ISLAND OF SOKOTRA
  XXIX. Kalenzia                                              343
   XXX. Eriosh and Kadhoup                                    353
  XXXI. Tamarida or Hadibo                                    361
 XXXII. We Depart for the Land's End, _i.e._ Ras Momi         371
XXXIII. Mount Haghier and Fereghet                            378
 XXXIV. Back to the Ocean                                     390

BELED FADHLI AND BELED YAFEI
  XXXV. Experiences with the Yafei Sultan                     399
 XXXVI. Among the Fadhli                                      412
XXXVII. From the Plain of Mis'hal to the Sea                  421

Appendices                                                    431

Index                                                         451



BIBLIOGRAPHY


Abu'lfida Ismael ibn Ali Imad ed din, Prince or King of
Hamar.--_Géographie d'Aboulfida_, traduite de l'Arabe et accompagnée de
notes et d'éclaircissements par M. Reinaud, par M. S. Guyard. Paris,
1848-83.

Baros, João de.--_Dos feitos que os Portugueses fizeram_. 1778-80.

Binning, Robert.--_A Journal of Two Years' Travel in Persia, Ceylon, &c._
1857.

Bunbury, Sir E. H.--_Ancient Geography among the Greeks and Romans_.
1879.

Cartas de Alfonzo de Albuquerque.--_Commentaries of Albuquerque_, Hakluyt
Society, translated by W. de G. Birch. 1875.

Carter, Dr.--_Paper in the Journal of the Asiatic Society_. Bombay
branch.

Chabas, Joseph.--_Les Inscriptions des Mines d'or_. 1862.

Correa, Gaspar.--_Three Voyages of Vasco da Gama_. Hakluyt Society, 1869.

Fernan Lopes de la Castanbeda.--_Historia do descubrimento e conquista da
India pe los Portugueses_. Lisbon, 1833.

Glaser, Eduard.--_Skizze der Geschichte der Geographie Süd-Arabiens_.
Berlin, 1890.

Goeje, J. de.--_Bibliotheca geographicorum Arabicorum_. 1870-85.
_Mémoires d'histoire et de géographie orientales_. 2nd edition, 1886.

_Helps to the Study of the Bible_.

Hommel, Fritz--_Süd-Arabische Chrestomathie und Minæo-Sabäischen
Grammatik_. München, 1893.

_India Directory_, Part I. 1874.

Miles, Colonel.--_Report of the Administration of the Persian Gulf
Residency_, 1884-88. _Journey through Oman and Dhakrireh_. Blue Book,
ccxx.

Muhamad ibn Muhamad, _Geographie d'Edrisi_.--Traduite de l'Arabe. Paris,
1836-40.

Muhammad ibn Abdallah, called Ibn Batuta.

Muhammad ibn Muhammad.--_Geographia Nubiensis_, 1619, 4º.

Müller, D. H.--_Epigraphische Denkmäler aus Arabien_ (Denkschriften der
K.K. Ak. der Wissenschaften Wien). _Phil. Hist._ Cl. 37, 1894.
_Himyarische Studien_ (Z. D. M., § 30). 1870.

Palgrave, W. G.--_Narrative of a Year's Journey through Central Eastern
Arabia_. 1865.

Pollak, Dr. J. E.--_Das Land und seine Bewohner_. 1865.

Sprenger Aloys.--_Bürger und Schlösser Süd-Arabiens. Die Alte Geographie
Arabiens_.

Vincent, W.--_The Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients in the Indian
Ocean_. 1886.

Wellsted, Lieut.--_Visit to Dhofar in the 'Philomel.'_ 1883. _Rough notes
of a visit to Nakhl and Jebel Akhdar_.

Ali Ibn al Husain, El Masudi, Abu al Hasan, Diodoros, Marco Polo, Sir
John Maundeville, Pliny, the _Periplus_, Strabo, Ebn Said, Ptolemy, and
others; but, as many of these names have been copied by me from rough
notes of my husband's, I cannot be certain about the editions. I hope the
imperfections of this bibliography will be excused.



ILLUSTRATIONS


A Mosque at Manamah, Bahrein                         _to face p._ 3

Theodore Bent Receiving Visitors at the Mounds, Bahrein        24
The Interior of Sheikh Saba's House at Rufa'a, Bahrein         34
The Castle of the Sultan of Shibahm at Al Koton               110
The Castle of the Sultan of Makalla at Shibahm                125
A Sabæan Altar                                                145
A Gara Forge                                                  247
The Abyss of Abyssapolis, Dhofar                              271
Elba Mountains From Shellal                                   304
Flute-Players in the Wadi Koukout, Soudan                     337
The Plain of Eriosh, Sokotra                                  354
Theodore Bent making the Vocabulary at Fereghet               365
Vegetation in Sokotra                                         379
The Breakwater at Fereghet                                    383
Dragon's-Blood Trees at Yehazahaz                             387
The Haghier Mountains from Suk                                394
Castle at Kanfar                                              402
Dirgheg                                                       408
Old Na'ab                                                     413
Fadhli at Shariah, Wadi Reban, with Curious Sandal            418
Village of Mis'hal                                            421
Plain of Mis'hal and Aòdeli Tribe                             425
Fragment of Alabasteroid Limestone                            435
Sabæan Antiquities                                            436



MAPS


Arabia, showing the Routes of Mr. J. Theodore Bent _to face p._ xii
Hadramut                                                       70
Dhofar and the Gara-Range                                     226
Mount Erba and Surrounding Country                            286
Sokotra                                                       342
The Fadhli Country, South Arabia                              400

[Illustration: Map of ARABIA

showing the routes of

M^r. J. THEODORE BENT.

Stanford's Geog.^l Estab.^t, London

London: Smith, Elder & Co.]



SOUTHERN ARABIA



CHAPTER I

MANAMAH AND MOHAREK


The first Arabian journey that we undertook was in 1889, when we visited
the Islands of Bahrein in the Persian Gulf; we were attracted by stories
of mysterious mounds, and we proposed to see what we could find inside
them, hoping, as turned out to be the fact, that we should discover
traces of Phoenician remains.

The search for traces of an old world takes an excavator now and again
into strange corners of the new. Out of the ground he may extract
treasures, or he may not--that is not our point here--out of the
inhabitants and their strange ways he is sure, whether he likes it or
not, to extract a great deal, and it is with this branch of an
excavator's life we are now going to deal.

We thought we were on the track of Phoenician remains and our interest
in our work was like the fingers of an aneroid, subject to sudden
changes, but at the same time we had perpetually around us a quaint,
unknown world of the present, more pleasing to most people than anything
pertaining to the past.

The group of islands known as Bahrein (dual form of Bahr, _i.e._ two
seas) lies in a bay of the same name in the Persian Gulf, about twenty
miles off the coast of El Hasa in Arabia.

Bahrein is really the name of the largest of the islands, which is
twenty-seven miles long by ten wide. The second in point of size is
Moharek, which lies north of Bahrein, and is separated from it by a
strait of horse-shoe form, five miles in length, and in a few places as
much as a mile wide, but for the greater part half a mile.

The rest of the group are mere rocks: Sitrah, four miles long, with a
village on it of the same name; Nebi Saleh, Sayeh, Khaseifa, and, to the
east of Moharek, Arad, with a palm-grove and a large double Portuguese
fort, an island or a peninsula according to the state of the tide.

It was no use embarking on a steamer which would take us direct from
England to our destination, owing to the complete uncertainty of the time
when we should arrive, so we planned out our way _viâ_ Karachi and
Maskat; then we had to go right up to Bushire, and again change steamers
there, for the boats going up the Gulf would not touch at Bahrein. At
Bushire we engaged five Persians to act as servants, interpreter, and
overseers over the workmen whom we should employ in excavating.

We had as our personal servant and interpreter combined a very dirty
Hadji Abdullah, half Persian, half Arab. He was the best to be obtained,
and his English was decidedly faulty. He always said _mules_ for meals,
_foals_ for fowls, and any one who heard him say 'What time you eat your
mules to-day, Sahib?' 'I have boiled two foals for dinner,' or 'Mem
Sahib, now I go in bazaar to buy our perwisions of grub,' or 'What place
I give you your grub, Mem Sahib?' would have been surprised.

He had been a great deal on our men-of-war; he also took a present of
horses from the Sultan of Maskat to the Queen, so that he could boast 'I
been to Home,' and alluded to his stay in England as 'when I was in
Home.'

Abdullah always says _chuck_ and never _throw_; and people unused to
him would not take in that 'Those peacock no good, carboys much better,'
referred to pickaxes and crowbars.

[Illustration: A MOSQUE AT MANAMAH, BAHREIN]

He used to come to the diggings and say: 'A couble of Sheikhs come here
in camp, Sahib. I am standing them some coffee; shall I stand them some
mixed biscuits, too?'

I must say I pity foreigners who have to trust to interpreters whose only
European language is such English as this.

With the whole of our party we embarked on the steamer which took us to
Bahrein, or rather as close as it could approach; for, owing to the
shallowness of the sea, while still far from shore we were placed in a
baggala in which we sailed for about twenty minutes. Then when a smaller
boat had conveyed us as near to the dry land as possible, we were in
mid-ocean transferred, bag and baggage, to asses, those lovely white
asses of Bahrein with tails and manes dyed yellow with henna, and
grotesque patterns illuminating their flanks; we had no reins or
stirrups, and as the asses, though more intelligent than our own, will
not unfrequently show obstinacy in the water, the rider, firmly grasping
his pommel, reaches with thankfulness the slimy, oozy beach of Bahrein.

Manamah is the name of the town at which you land; it is the commercial
capital of the islands--just a streak of white houses and bamboo huts,
extending about a mile and a half along the shore. A few mosques with low
minarets may be seen, having stone steps up one side, by which the priest
ascends for the call to prayer. These mosques and the towers of the
richer pearl merchants show some decided architectural features, having
arches of the Saracenic order, with fretwork of plaster and quaint stucco
patterns.

On landing we were at once surrounded by a jabbering crowd of negro
slaves, and stately Arabs with long, flowing robes and twisted
camel-hair cords (akkal) around their heads.

Our home while in the town was one of the best of the battlemented
towers, and consisted of a room sixteen feet square, on a stone platform.
It had twenty-six windows with no glass in them, but pretty lattice of
plaster. Our wooden lock was highly decorated, and we had a wooden key to
close our door, which pleased us much. Even though we were close upon the
tropics we found our abode chilly enough after sunset; and our nights
were rendered hideous--firstly, by the barking of dogs; secondly, by
cocks which crowed at an inordinately early hour; and, thirdly, by pious
Mussulmans hard at work praying before the sun rose.

From our elevated position we could look down into a sea of bamboo huts,
the habitations of the pearl-fishers: neat enough abodes, with courtyards
paved with helix shells. In these courtyards stood quaint, large
water-jars, which women filled from goat-skins carried on their shoulders
from the wells, wobbling when full like live headless animals; and
cradles, like hencoops, for their babies. They were a merry idle lot of
folk just then, for it was not their season of work: perpetually playing
games (of which tip-jack and top-spinning appeared the favourite for both
young and old) seemed to be their chief occupation. Staid Arabs, with
turbans and long, flowing robes, spinning tops, formed a sight of which
we never tired. The spinning-tops are made out of whelk-shells, which I
really believe must have been the original pattern from which our
domestic toy was made. The door-posts of their huts are often made of
whales' jaws; a great traffic is done in sharks; the cases for their
swords and daggers are all of shagreen. The gulf well deserves the name
given to it by Ptolemy of the _Ichthyophagorum sinus_.

Walking through the bazaars one is much struck by the quaint, huge iron
locks, some of them with keys nearly two feet long, and ingeniously
opened by pressure of a spring. In the commoner houses the locks and keys
are all of wood. In the bazaars, too, you may find that queer El Hasa
money called Tawilah, or 'long bits,' short bars of copper doubled back
and compressed together, with a few characters indicating the prince who
struck them.

The coffee-pots of Bahrein are quite a specialty, also coming from El
Hasa, which appears to be the centre of art in this part of Arabia. With
their long beak-like spouts and concentric circles with patterns on them,
these coffee-pots are a distinct feature. In the bazaars of Manamah and
Moharek coffee-vendors sit at every corner with some huge pots of a
similar shape simmering on the embers; in the lid are introduced stones
to make a noise and attract the attention of the passers-by. Coffee-shops
take the place of spirit and wine shops, which in the strict Wahabi
country would not be, for a moment, tolerated. In private houses it is
thought well to have four or five coffee-pots standing round the fire, to
give an appearance of riches.

Besides the coffee-pots, other objects of El Hasa workmanship may be seen
in Bahrein. Every household of respectability has its wooden bowl with
which to offer visitors a drink of water or sour milk; these are
beautifully inlaid with silver in very elaborate patterns. The guns used
by Bahreini sportsmen are similarly inlaid, and the camel saddles of the
sheikhs are most beautifully decorated on the pommels in the same style.

The anvils, at which the blacksmiths in the bazaars were squatting, were
like large nails with heads about six inches square, driven into the
ground and about a foot high.

The old weapons of the Bedouin Arabs are still in use in Bahrein: the
long lance which is put up before the tent of the chief when he goes
about, the shield of camel-skin decorated with gold paint and brass
knobs, the coat of mail, and other objects of warfare used in an age long
gone by. Every other stall has dates to sell in thick masses, the chief
food of the islanders. Then you may see locusts pressed and pickled in
barrels; the poorer inhabitants are very fond of this diet, and have
converted the curse of the cultivator into a favourite delicacy. As for
weights, the stall-holders would appear to have none but stones, whelk
shells, and potsherds, which must be hard to regulate.

An ancient Arab author states that in Oman 'men obtain fire from a spark,
by rolling the tinder in dry Arab grass and swinging it round till it
bursts into flame.' We often saw this process and bought one of the
little cages, hanging to a long chain, which they use in Bahrein.

Of course pearl-fishing is the great occupation of the islands, and
Manamah is inhabited chiefly by pearl merchants and divers. Bahrein has
in fact been celebrated for its pearl-fishing ever since the days of the
Periplus of Nearchus, in the time of Alexander the Great.

Albuquerque, in his commentaries,[1] thus speaks of Bahrein pearl-fishing
in 1510:--'Bahrein is noted for its large breeding of horses, its barley
crops, and the variety of its fruits; and all around it are the fishing
grounds of seed pearls, and of pearls which are sent to these realms of
Portugal, for they are better and more lasting than any that are found in
any other of these parts.' This is also the verdict of the modern pearl
merchants, who value Bahrein pearls, as more lasting and harder than
those even of Ceylon. Evidently Albuquerque got an order from his
sovereign for pearls, for he writes,[2] in 1515, that he is getting the
pearls which the king had ordered for 'the pontifical of our lady.' To
this day in their dealings the pearl merchants of Bahrein still make use
of the old Portuguese weights and names.

The pearl oyster is found in all the waters from Ras Mussendom to the
head of the Gulf, but on the Persian side there are no known banks of
value. They vary in distance from one to ninety miles from the low-lying
shore of 'Araby the Blest,' but the deep sea banks are not so much fished
till the 'Shemal' or nor'westers of June have spent their force. The
three seasons for fishing are known as 'the spring fishing' in the
shallow water, 'the summer fishing' in the deep waters, and 'the winter
fishing' conducted principally by wading in the shoals. The pearls of
these seas are still celebrated for their firmness, and do not peel. They
are commonly reported to lose one per cent. annually for fifty years in
colour and water, but after that they remain the same. They have seven
skins, whereas the Cingalese pearls have only six. The merchants
generally buy them wholesale by the old Portuguese weight of the _chao_.
They divide them into different sizes with sieves and sell them in India,
so that, as is usually the case with specialties, it is impossible to buy
a good pearl on Bahrein.

Diving here is exceedingly primitive; all the necessary paraphernalia
consists of a loop of rope and a stone to go down with, a curious horn
thing to hold the nose, and oil for the orifice of the ears. Once a
merchant brought with him a diving apparatus, but the divers were highly
indignant, and leaguing against him refused to show the best banks. In
this way the fisheries suffer, for the best pearls are in the deeper
waters, which can only be visited late in the season. The divers are
mostly negro slaves from Africa; they do not live long, poor creatures,
developing awful sores and weak eyes, and they live and die entirely
without medical aid.

At present the pearl-fisheries employ about four hundred boats of from
eight to twenty men each. Each boat pays a tax to the sheikh. The fishing
season lasts from April to October.

Very curious boats ply in the waters between Manamah and Moharek; the
huge ungainly baggalas can only sail in the deeper channels. The Bahrein
boats have very long-pointed prows, elegantly carved and decorated with
shells; when the wind is contrary they are propelled by poles or paddles,
consisting of boards of any shape tied to the end of the poles with
twine, and the oarsman always seats himself on the gunwale.

Perhaps the way these boats are tied and sewn together may have given
rise to the legend alluded to by Sir John Maundeville when he saw them at
the Isle of Hormuz. 'Near that isle there are ships without nails of iron
or bonds, on account of the rocks of adamants (loadstones), for they are
all abundant there in that sea that it is marvellous to speak of, and if
a ship passed there that had iron bonds or iron nails it would perish,
for the adamant, by its nature, draws iron to it, and so it would draw
the ship that it should never depart from it.'

Many of the boats have curious-shaped stone anchors, and water casks of
uniform and doubtless old-world shape. The sheikh has some fine war
vessels, called _batils_, which did good execution about fifty years ago,
when the Sultan of Oman and the rulers of El Hasa tried to seize Bahrein,
and a naval battle took place in the shallow sea off the coast in which
the Bahreini were victorious. Now that the Gulf is practically English
and piracy at an end, these vessels are more ornamental than useful. His
large baggala, which mounted ten tiny guns and was named the _Dunijah_,
is now employed in trade.

Then there are the bamboo skiffs with decks almost flush with the side,
requiring great skill in working. Boats are really of but little use
immediately around the islands. You see men walking in the sea quite a
mile out, collecting shellfish and seaweeds, which form a staple diet for
both man and beast on Bahrein.

The shallowness of the sea between Bahrein and the mainland has
contributed considerably to the geographical and mercantile importance of
the Bahrein. No big vessels can approach the opposite coast of Arabia;
hence, in olden days, when the caravan trade passed this way, all goods
must have been transhipped to smaller boats at Bahrein.

Sir M. Durant, in a consular report, states it as his opinion that,
'under a settled government, Bahrein could be the trading place of the
Persian Gulf for Persia and Arabia, and an excellent harbour near the
warehouses could be formed.'

If the Euphrates Valley Railway had ever been opened, if the terminus of
this railway had been at Koweit, as it was proposed by the party of
survey under the command of Admiral Charlewood and General Chesney, the
Bahrein group would at once have sprung into importance as offering a
safe emporium in the immediate vicinity of this terminus. Bahrein is the
Cyprus of the Persian Gulf, in fact. This day is, however, postponed
indefinitely until such times as England, Turkey, and Russia shall see
fit to settle their differences; and with a better understanding between
these Powers, and the development of railways in the East, the Persian
Gulf may yet once more become a high road of commerce, and the Bahrein
Islands may again come into notice.

The Portuguese, who were the first Europeans after the time of Alexander
to visit the Gulf, recognised the importance of Bahrein. Up to their time
the Gulf had been a closed Mohammedan lake. The history of their rule in
that part has yet to be written, but it will disclose a tale of great
interest, and be a record of marvellous commercial enterprise. It was
Albuquerque who first reopened the Gulf to Europeans.

Early in the sixteenth century (1504), he urged the occupation of the
Gulf. In 1506 three fleets went to the East under the command of Tristan
d'Acunha, with Albuquerque as second in command. Tristan soon took his
departure further afield, and left Albuquerque in command. This admiral
first attacked and took Hormuz, then governed by a king of Persian
origin. Here, and at Maskat, he thoroughly established the Portuguese
power, thereby commanding the entrance into the Gulf. From de Barros'
account it would appear that the king of Bahrein was a tributary of the
king of Hormuz, paying annually 40,000 _pardaos_, and from Albuquerque's
letters we read that the occupation of Bahrein formed part of his scheme.
'With Hormuz and Bahrein in their hand the whole Gulf would be under
their control,' he wrote. In fact, Albuquerque's scheme at that time
would appear to have been exceedingly vast and rather chimerical--namely,
to divert the Nile from its course and let it flow into the Red Sea, ruin
Egypt, and bring the India trade _viâ_ the Persian Gulf to Europe. Of
this scheme we have only the outline, but, beyond establishing fortresses
in the Gulf, it fell through, for Albuquerque died, and with him his
gigantic projects.

The exact date of the occupation of Bahrein by the Portuguese I have as
yet been unable to discover; but in 1521 we read of an Arab insurrection
in Bahrein against the Persians and Portuguese, in which the Portuguese
factor, Ruy Bale, was tortured and crucified.

Sheikh Hussein bin Said, of the Arabian tribe of Ben Zabia, was the
instigator of this revolt. In the following year the Portuguese governor,
Dom Luis de Menezes, came to terms with him, and appointed him
Portuguese representative in the island.

A few years later, one Ras Bardadim, _guazil_, or governor of Bahrein,
made himself objectionable, and against him Simeon d'Acunha was sent. He
and many of his men died of fever in the expedition, but the Portuguese
power was again restored.

Towards the close of the sixteenth century the Portuguese came under the
rule of Spain, and from that date their power in the Persian Gulf began
to wane. Their soldiers were drafted off to the wars in Flanders instead
of going to the East to protect the colonies; and the final blow came in
1622, when Shah Abbas of Persia, assisted by an English fleet, took
Hormuz, and then Bahrein. Twenty years later a company of Portuguese
merchants, eager for the pearls of these islands, organised an expedition
from Goa to recover the Bahrein, but the ships were taken and plundered
by the Arabs before ever they entered the Gulf.

Thus fell the great Portuguese power in the Gulf, the sole traces of
which now are the numerous fortresses, such as the one on Bahrein.

From 1622 to the present time the control over Bahrein has been contested
between the Persians and Arabs, and as the Persian power has been on the
wane, the Arabian star has been in the ascendent. In 1711 the Sultan bin
Seif wrested Bahrein from Persia; in 1784 the Uttubbi of El Hasa
conquered it. They have held it ever since, despite the attempts of Seyid
Said of Oman, of the Turks and Persians, to take it from them. The Turks
have, however, succeeded in driving them out of their original kingdom of
El Hasa, on the mainland of Arabia opposite, and now the Bahrein is all
that remains to them of their former extensive territories.

The royal family is a numerous one, being a branch of the El Khalifa
tribe. They are the chiefs of the Uttubbi tribe of Arabs.

Most of them, if not actually belonging to that strict sect of Arabians
known as Wahabi, have strong puritanical proclivities. Our teetotalers
are nothing to them in bigotry. If a vendor of intoxicating liquor
started a shop on Bahrein, they would burn his house down, so that the
wicked who want to drink any intoxicating liquor have to buy the material
secretly from ships in the harbour. Many think it wrong to smoke, and
spend their lives in prayer and fasting. Church decoration is an
abomination to the Wahabi; therefore, in Bahrein the mosques are little
better than barns with low minarets, for the very tall ones of other
Mohammedan sects are forbidden. The Wahabi are fanatics of the deepest
dye; 'there is one God, and Mohammed is his prophet,' they say with the
rest of the Mohammedan world, but the followers of Abdul Wahab add, 'and
in no case must Mohammed and the Imams be worshipped lest glory be
detracted from God.' All titles to them are odious; no grand tombs are to
be erected over their dead, no mourning is allowed; hence the cemetery at
Manamah is but a pitiful place--a vast collection of circles set with
rough stones, each with a small uninscribed headpiece, and the surface
sprinkled with helix shells.

The Wahabi would wage, if they dared, perpetual war not only against the
infidel, but against such perverted individuals as those who go to
worship at Mecca and other sacred shrines. The founder of this revival is
reported to have beaten his sons to death for drinking wine, and to have
made his daughters support themselves by spinning, but at the same time
he felt himself entitled to give to a fanatical follower, who courted
death for his sake, an order for an emerald palace and a large number of
female slaves in the world to come.

In 1867 the Shah of Persia aimed at acquiring Bahrein, though his only
claim to it was based on the fact that Bahrein had been an appanage of
the Persian crown under the Suffavian kings. He instituted a revolt on
the island; adopted a claimant to the sheikhdom, and got him to hoist the
Persian flag. Our ships blockaded Bahrein, intercepted letters, and
obliged the rebel sheikh to quit. Then it was that we took the islands
under our protection. In 1875 the Turks caused trouble, and the
occupation of Bahrein formed part of their great scheme of conquest in
Arabia. Our ship the _Osprey_ appeared on the scene, drove back the
Turks, transported to India several sheikhs who were hostile to the
English rule, and placed Sheikh Isa (or Esau) on the throne under British
protection, under which he rules happily to this day.

We went to see him at Moharek, where he holds his court in the
winter-time. We crossed over in a small baggala, and had to be poled for
a great distance with our keel perpetually grating on the bottom. It was
like driving in a carriage on a jolting road; the donkeys trotted
independently across, their legs quite covered with water. We were glad
when they came alongside, and we completed our journey on their backs.

The courtyard of the palace, which somewhat recalls the Alhambra in its
architecture, was, when we arrived, crowded with Arab chiefs in all
manner of quaint costumes. His majesty's dress was exceedingly fine. He
and his family are entitled to wear their camel-hair bands bound round
with gold thread. These looked very regal over the red turban, and his
long black coat, with his silver-studded sword by his side, made him look
every inch a king.

He is most submissive to British interests, inasmuch as his immediate
predecessors who did not love England were shipped off to India, and
still languish there in exile; as he owes his throne entirely to British
protection, he and his family will probably continue to reign as long as
the English are virtual owners of the Gulf, if they are willing to submit
to the English protectorate.

We got a photograph of a group of them resting on their guns, and with
their kanjars or sickle-shaped daggers at their waists. We took Prince
Mohamed, the heir-apparent, and the stout Seid bin Omar, the prime
minister of Bahrein. But Sheikh Esau refused to place his august person
within reach of our camera.

During our visit we were seated on high arm-chairs of the kind so much
used in India, and the only kind used here. They were white and hoary
with old age and long estrangement from furniture polish. For our sins we
had to drink the bitterest black coffee imaginable, which tasted like
varnish from the bitter seeds infused in it; this was followed by cups of
sweet syrup flavoured with cinnamon, a disagreeable custom to those
accustomed to take their coffee and sugar together.

Moharek is aristocratic, being the seat of government; Manamah is
essentially commercial, and between them in the sea is a huge dismantled
Portuguese fort, now used as Sheikh Esau's stables.

The town of Moharek gets its water supply from a curious source,
springing up from under the sea. At high tide there is about a fathom of
salt water over the spring, and water is brought up either by divers who
go down with skins, or by pushing a hollow bamboo down into it. At low
tide there is very little water over it, and women with large amphora and
goat-skins wade out and fetch what water they require; they tell me that
the spring comes up with such force that it drives back the salt water
and never gets impregnated. All I can answer for is that the water is
excellent to drink.

This source is called Bir Mahab, and there are several of a similar
nature on the coast around: the Kaseifah spring and others. There is such
a spring in the harbour of Syracuse, about twenty feet under the sea.

The legend is that in the time of Merwan, a chief, Ibn Hakim, from Katif,
wished to marry the lovely daughter of a Bahrein chief. His suit was not
acceptable, so he made war on the islands and captured all the wells
which supplied the towns on the bigger island; but the guardian deity of
the Bahreini caused this spring to break out in the sea just before
Moharek, and the invader was thus in time repulsed. It is a curious fact
that Arados or Arvad, the Phoenician town on the Mediterranean, was
supplied by a similar submarine source.

Sheikh Esau's representative at Manamah--his prime minister or viceroy,
we should call him, though he is usually known there by the
humble-sounding title of the 'bazaar master,' by name Seid bin Omar, is a
very stout and nearly black individual, with a European cast of
countenance. He looked exceedingly grand when he came to see us, in his
under-robe of scarlet cloth, with a cloak of rustling and stiff white
wool with a little red woven in it. Over his head floated a white
cashmere shawl, with the usual camel-hair rings to keep it on, and
sandals on his bare feet. He was deputed by his sovereign to look after
us, and during the fortnight we were on the island he never left us for a
single day. Though outwardly very strict in his asceticism, and
constantly apt to say his prayers with his nose in the dust at
inconvenient moments, we found him by no means averse to a cigarette in
the strictest privacy, and we learnt that his private life would not bear
European investigation. He is constantly getting married. Though sixty
years of age he had a young bride of a few weeks' standing. I was assured
that he would soon tire of her and put her away. Even in polygamous
Arabia he is looked upon as a much-married man.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: P. 164.]

[Footnote 2: P. 328.]



CHAPTER II

THE MOUNDS OF ALI


And now behold us excavators on the way to the scene of our labours. Six
camels conveyed our tents, a seventh carried goat-skins full of water.
Four asses groaned under our personal effects; hens for consumption rode
in a sort of lobster-pot by the side of clattering pickaxes and chairs;
six policemen, or _peons_, were in our train, each on a donkey. One
carried a paraffin lamp, another a basket of eggs on the palm of his
hand, and as there were no reins and no stirrups, the wonder is that
these articles ever survived. As for ourselves, we, like everybody else,
rode sideways, holding on like grim death before and behind, especially
when the frisky Bahrein donkeys galloped at steeplechase pace across the
desert.

For some distance around Manamah all is arid desert, on which grow a few
scrubby plants, which women cut for fodder with sickle-like saws, and
carry home in large bundles on their backs. Sheikh Esau's summer palace
is in the centre of this desert--a fortress hardly distinguishable from
the sand around, and consisting, like Eastern structures of this nature,
of nothing but one room over the gateway for his majesty, and a vast
courtyard 200 feet long, where his attendants erect their bamboo huts and
tents. Around the whole runs a wall with bastions at each corner, very
formidable to look upon. Passing this, the palm-groves, which are
exceedingly fine, are soon reached, and offer delicious shade from the
burning sun. Here amongst the trees were women working in picturesque
attire, red petticoats, orange-coloured drawers down to their heels, and
a dark blue covering over all this, which would suddenly be pulled over
the face at our approach, if they had not on their masks, or _buttras_,
which admit of a good stare.

The _buttra_ is a kind of mask, more resembling a bridle than anything
else. In shape it is like two diamond-frames made of gold and coloured
braids, fastened together by two of their lower edges. This middle strip
comes down the nose and covers the mouth, and the sides come between the
ears and eyes. It affords very little concealment, but is very becoming
to most of its wearers, particularly if they happen to be negresses. On
their heads would be baskets with dates or citrons, and now and again a
particularly modest one would dart behind a palm-tree until that
dangerous animal man had gone by.

About half way to the scene of our labours we halted by the ruins of the
old Arab town, Beled-al-Kadim.

This ancient capital, dating from a period prior to the Portuguese
occupation, still presents some interesting ruins. The old mosque
(Madresseh-i-abu-Zeidan), with its two slender and elegant minarets, so
different from the horrible Wahabi constructions of to-day, forms a
conspicuous landmark for ships approaching the low-lying coasts of these
islands. Around the body of the mosque runs a fine inscription in Kufic
letters, and from the fact that the name of Ali is joined with that of
the Prophet in the profession of faith, we may argue that this mosque was
built during some Persian occupation, and was a Shiite mosque. The
architecture, too, is distinctly Persian, recalling to us in its details
the ruins of Rhey (the Rhages of Tobit) and of Sultanieh, which we saw in
the north of Persia, and has nothing Arabian about it.

Ruins of houses and buildings surround this mosque, and here in the open
space in the centre of the palm-groves the Bahreini assemble every
Thursday for a market; in fact the place is generally known now as
Suk-el-Khamis, or Thursday's Market.

On our journey out not a soul was near, but on our return we had an
opportunity of attending one of these gatherings.

Sheikh Esau has here a tiny mosque, just an open _loggia_, where he goes
every morning in summer-time to pray and take his coffee. Beneath it he
has a bath of fresh but not over-clean water, where he and his family
bathe. Often during the summer heats he spends the whole day here, or
else he goes to his glorious garden about a mile distant, near the coast,
where acacias, hibiscus, and almonds fight with one another for the
mastery, and form a delicious tangle.

Another mile on, closer to the sea, is the fine ruined fortress of the
Portuguese, Gibliah, as the natives call it now, just as they do one of
the fortresses at Maskat. It covers nearly two acres of ground, and is
built out of the remains of the old Persian town, for many Kufic
inscriptions are let into the wall, and the deep well in the centre is
lined with them. It is a regular bastioned fortification of the sixteenth
century, with moat, embrasures in the parapets, and casemented embrasures
in the re-entering angles of the bastions, and is one of the finest
specimens of Portuguese architecture in the Gulf, an evidence of the
importance which they attached to this island.

Amongst the rubbish in the fort we picked up numerous fragments of fine
Nankin and Celadon china, attesting to the ubiquity and commerce of the
former owners, and attesting, also, to the luxury of the men who ruled
here--a luxury as fatal almost as the Flanders wars to the well-being of
the Portuguese in the East.

Our road led us on through miles of palm-groves, watered by their little
artificial conduits, and producing the staple food of the island. Seid
bin Omar talked to us much about the date. 'Mohammed said,' he began,
'honour the date-tree, for she is your mother,' a true enough maxim in
parched Arabia, where nothing else will grow. When ripe the dates are put
into a round tank, called the _madibash_, where they are exposed to the
sun and air, and throw off excessive juice which collects below; after
three days of this treatment they are removed and packed for exportation
in baskets of palm leaves. The Bahreini, for their own consumption, love
to add sesame seeds to their dates, or ginger powder and walnuts pressed
with them into jars. These are called _sirah_, and are originally
prepared by being dried in the sun and protected at night, then diluted
date-juice is poured over them. The fruit which does not reach maturity
is called _salang_, and is given as food to cattle, boiled with ground
date-stones and fish bones. This makes an excellent sort of cake for
milch cows; this, and the green dates also, are given to the donkeys, and
to this food the Bahreini attribute their great superiority. The very
poor also make an exceedingly unpalatable dish out of green dates mixed
with fish for their own table, or, I should say, floor.

Nature here is not strong enough for the fructification of the palm, so
at given seasons the pollen is removed by cutting off the male spathes;
these they dry for twenty hours, and then they take the flower twigs and
deposit one or two in each bunch of the female blossom. Just as we were
there they were very busy with the spathes, and in Thursday's Market huge
baskets of the male spathes were exposed for sale. The palm-groves are
surrounded by dykes to keep the water in.

The date-tree is everything to a Bahreini. He beats the green spadix
with wooden implements to make fibre for his ropes; in the dry state he
uses it as fuel; he makes his mats, the only known form of carpet and
bedding here, out of it; his baskets are made of the leaves. From the
fresh spathe, by distillation, a certain stuff called _tara_ water is
obtained, of strong but agreeable smell, which is much used for the
making of sherbet. Much legendary lore is connected with the date. The
small round hole at the back is said to have been made by Mohammed's
teeth, when one day he foolishly tried to bite one; and in some places
the expression 'at the same time a date and a duty,' is explained by the
fact that in Ramazan the day's fast is usually broken by first eating a
date.

Amongst all these date-groves are the curious Arab wells, with sloping
runs, and worked by donkeys. The tall poles, to which the skins are
attached, are date-tree trunks. Down goes the skin bucket as the donkey
comes up a steep slope in the ground, and then, as he goes down, up it
comes again full of water, to be guided into the channel, which
fertilises the trees, by a slave, who supports himself going up, and adds
his weight to that of the descending donkey, by putting his arm through a
large wooden ring hung at the donkey's shoulder. Day after day in our
camp we heard the weird creaking from these wells, very early in the
morning and in the evening when the sun had gone down, and we felt as we
heard it what an infinite blessing is a well of water in a thirsty land.

Leaving the palm-groves and the Portuguese fortress behind us, we
re-entered the desert to the south-west; and, just beyond the village of
Ali, we came upon that which is the great curiosity of Bahrein, to
investigate which was our real object in visiting the island: for there
begins that vast sea of sepulchral mounds, the great necropolis of an
unknown race which extends far and wide across the plain. The village of
Ali forms as it were the culminating point; it lies just on the borders
of the date-groves, and there the mounds reach an elevation of over forty
feet, but as they extend further southward they diminish in size, until
miles away, in the direction of Rufa'a, we found mounds elevated only a
few feet above the level of the desert, and some mere circular heaps of
stones. There are many thousands of these tumuli extending over an area
of desert for many miles. There are isolated groups of mounds in other
parts of the islands, and a few solitary ones are to be found on the
adjacent islets, on Moharek, Arad, and Sitrah.

Complete uncertainty existed as to the origin of these mounds, and the
people who constructed them, but, from classical references and the
result of our own work, there can now be no doubt that they are of
Phoenician origin. Herodotus[3] gives us as a tradition current in his
time that the forefathers of the Phoenician race came from these parts.
The Phoenicians themselves believed in it: 'It is their own account of
themselves,' says Herodotus; and Strabo[4] brings further testimony to
bear on the subject, stating that two of the islands now called Bahrein
were called Tyros and Arados. Pliny follows in Strabo's steps, but calls
the island Tylos instead of Tyros, which may be only an error in
spelling, or may be owing to the universal confusion of _r_ with _l_.

Ptolemy in his map places Gerrha, the mart of ancient Indian trade and
the starting-point for caravans on the great road across Arabia, on the
coast just opposite the islands, near where the town of El Katif now is,
and accepts Strabo's and Pliny's names for the Bahrein Islands, calling
them Tharros, Tylos or Tyros, and Arados. The fact is that all our
information on the islands prior to the Portuguese occupation comes from
the Periplus of Nearchus. Eratosthenes, a naval officer of Alexander's,
states that the Gulf was 10,000 stadia long from Cape Armozum, _i.e._
Hormuz, to Teredon (Koweit), and the mouth of the Euphrates. Androsthenes
of Thasos, who was of the company of Nearchus, made an independent
geographical survey of the Gulf on the Arabian side, and his statements
are, that on an island called Ikaros, now Peludji, just off Koweit, he
saw a temple of Apollo. Southwards, at a distance of 2,400 stadia, or 43
nautical leagues, he came on Gerrha, and, close to it, the islands of
Tyros and Arados, 'which have temples like those of the Phoenicians,'
who were (the inhabitants told him) colonists from these parts. From
Nearchus, too, we learn that the Phoenicians had a town called Sidon or
Sidodona in the Gulf, which he visited, and on an island called Tyrine
was shown the tomb of Erythras, which he describes as 'an elevated
hillock covered with palms,' just like our mounds, and Erythras was the
king who gave his name to the Gulf. Justin accepts the migration of the
Phoenicians from the Persian Gulf as certain; and M. Renan says, 'The
primitive abode of the Phoenicians must be placed on the Lower
Euphrates, in the centre of the great commercial and maritime
establishments of the Persian Gulf.'[5] As for the temples, there are no
traces of them left, and this is also the case in Syrian Phoenicia;
doubtless they were all built of wood, which will account for their
disappearance.

As we ourselves, during the course of our excavations, brought to light
objects of distinctly Phoenician origin, there would appear to be no
longer any room for doubt that the mounds which lay before us were a vast
necropolis of this mercantile race. If so, one of two suppositions must
be correct, either firstly, that the Phoenicians originally lived here
before they migrated to the Mediterranean, and that this was the land of
Punt from which the Puni got their name, a land of palms like the Syrian
coast from which the race got their distorted Greek appellation of
Phoenicians; or secondly, that these islands were looked upon by them
as a sacred spot for the burial of their dead, as the Hindoo looks upon
the Ganges, and the Persian regards the shrines of Kerbela and Meshed. I
am much more inclined to the former supposition, judging from the
mercantile importance of the Bahrein Islands and the excellent school
they must have been for a race which was to penetrate to all the then
known corners of the globe--to brave the dangers of the open Atlantic,
and to reach the shores of Britain in their trading ventures; and if
nomenclature goes for anything, the name of Tyros and the still-existing
name of Arad ought to confirm us in our belief and make certainty more
certain.

Our camp was pitched on this desert among the tumuli. The ground was hard
and rough, covered with very sharp stones; though dry, it sounded hollow,
and it seemed as though there were water under it.

Our own tent occupied a conspicuous and central place; our servants' tent
was hard by, liable to be blown down by heavy gusts of wind, which event
happened the first night after our arrival, to the infinite discomfiture
of the bazaar-master, who, by the way, had left his grand clothes at
home, and appeared in the desert clad in a loose coffee-coloured
dressing-gown, with a red band round his waist. Around the tents swarmed
turbaned diggers, who looked as if they had come out in their
night-gowns, dressing-gowns, and bath-sheets. These lodged at night in
the bamboo village of Ali hard by, a place for which we developed the
profoundest contempt, for the women thereof refused to pollute themselves
by washing the clothes of infidels, and our garments had to be sent all
the way to Manamah to be cleansed. A bamboo structure formed a shelter
for the kitchen, around which, on the sand, lay curious coffee-pots,
bowls, and cooking utensils, which would have been eagerly sought after
for museums in Europe. The camel, which fetched the daily supply of water
from afar, grazed around on the coarse desert herbage; the large white
donkey which went into the town for marketing by day, and entangled
himself in the tent ropes by night, was also left to wander at his own
sweet will. This desert camp was evidently considered a very peculiar
sight indeed, and no wonder that for the first week of our residence
there, we were visited by all the inhabitants of Bahrein who could find
time to come so far.

It was very weird to sit in our tent door the first evening and look at
the great mound we were going to dig into next morning, and think how
long it had stood there in the peace its builders hoped for it. There
seemed to be quite a mournful feeling about disturbing it; but
archæologists are a ruthless body, and this was to be the last night it
would ever stand in its perfect shape. After all, we were full of hope of
finding out the mystery of its origin.

The first attack next morning was most amusing to behold. My husband
headed the party, looking very tall and slim, with his legs outlined
against the sky, as he, with all the rest, in single file and in
fluttering array, wound first round the mound to look for a good place to
ascend, and then went straight up.

They were all amazed when I appeared and gave orders to the division
under my command.

They looked very questioningly indeed, but, as the Persians had learnt to
respect me, the Bahreini became quite amenable.

[Illustration: THEODORE BENT RECEIVING VISITORS AT THE MOUNDS, BAHREIN]

The dimensions of the mound on which we began our labours were as
follows: 35 feet in height, 76 feet in diameter, and 152 paces in
circumference. We chose this in preference to the higher mounds, the
tops of which were flattened somewhat and suggested the idea that they
had fallen in. Ours, on the contrary, was quite rounded on the summit,
and gave every hope that in digging through it we should find whatever
was inside in _statu quo_. At a distance of several feet from most of the
mounds are traces of an outer encircling wall or bank of earth, similar
to walls found around certain tombs in Lydia, as also round a tumulus at
Tara in Ireland, and this encircling wall was more marked around some of
the smaller and presumably more recent tombs at the outer edge of the
necropolis; in some cases several mounds would appear to have been
clustered together, and to have had an encircling wall common to them
all.

We dug from the top of our mound for 15 feet, with great difficulty,
through a sort of conglomerate earth, nearly as hard as cement, before we
reached anything definite. Then suddenly this close earth stopped, and we
came across a layer of large loose stones, entirely free from soil, which
layer covered the immediate top of the tombs for two feet. Beneath these
stones, and immediately on the flat slabs forming the roof of the tomb,
had been placed palm branches, which in the lapse of ages had become
white and crumbly, and had assumed the flaky appearance of asbestos. This
proved that the palm flourished on Bahrein at the date of these tombs,
and that the inhabitants were accustomed to make use of it for
constructive purposes.

Six very large slabs of rough unhewn limestone, which had obviously come
from Jebel Dukhan, lay on the top of the tomb, forming a roof. One of
these was 6 feet in length, and 2 feet 2 inches in depth.

The tomb itself was composed of two chambers, one immediately over the
other, and approached by a long passage, like the dromos of rock-cut
Greek tombs, which was full of earth and small stones. The entrance, as
was that of all the tombs, was towards the sunset. This passage was 53
feet in length, extending from the outer rim of the circle to the mouth
of the tomb. Around the outer circle of the mound itself ran a wall of
huge stones, evidently to support the weight of earth necessary to
conceal the tomb, and large unhewn stones closed the entrance to the two
chambers of the tomb at the head of the passage.

We first entered the upper chamber, the floor of which was covered with
gritty earth. It was 30 feet long, and at the four corners were recesses
2 feet 10 inches in depth, and the uniform height of this chamber was 4
feet 6 inches. The whole surface of the interior to the depth of two or
three inches above the other _débris_ was covered with yellow earth
composed of the tiny bones of the jerboa, that rat-like animal which is
found in abundance on the shores of the Persian Gulf. There was no sign
of any recent ones and only a few fragments of skulls to show what this
yellow earth had been. We then proceeded to remove the rubbish and sift
it for what we could find.

The chief objects of interest consisted in innumerable fragments of
ivory, fragments of circular boxes, pendants with holes for suspension
(obviously used as ornaments by this primitive race), the torso of a
small statue in ivory, the hoof of a bull fixed on to an ivory pedestal,
evidently belonging to a small statue of a bull, the foot of another
little statue, and various fragments of ivory utensils. Many of these
fragments had patterns inscribed on them--rough patterns of scales,
rosettes, encircling chains, and the two parallel lines common to so many
ivory fragments found at Kameiros, and now in the British Museum. In
fact, the decorations on most of them bear a close and unmistakable
resemblance to ivories found in Phoenician tombs on the shores of the
Mediterranean, and to the ivories in the British Museum from Nimrud in
Assyria, universally accepted as having been executed by Phoenician
artists: those cunning workers in ivory and wood whom Solomon employed in
the building of his temple, and, before the spread of Egyptian and Greek
art, the travelling artists of the world. The ivory fragments we found
were given into the hands of Mr. A. S. Murray, of the British Museum, who
wrote to my husband as follows: 'I have not the least doubt, judging from
the incised patterns, from bull's foot, part of a figure, &c., that the
ivories are of Phoenician workmanship.'

The pottery found in this tomb offered no very distinctive features,
being coarse and unglazed, but the numerous fragments of ostrich
egg-shells, coloured and scratched with rough patterns in bands, also
pointed to a Phoenician origin, or at least to a race of wide
mercantile connection: and in those days the Phoenicians were the only
people likely to combine in their commerce ostrich egg-shells and ivory.
We also found small shapeless pieces of oxidised metal, brass or copper.
There were no human bones in the upper chamber, but those of a large
animal, presumably a horse.

The chamber immediately beneath was much more carefully constructed; it
was exactly the same length, but was higher, being 6 feet 7 inches, and
the passage was wider. It was entirely coated with cement of two
qualities, the upper coat being the finest, in which all round the walls
at intervals of two feet were holes sloping inwards and downward. In
similar holes, in one of the other tombs we opened, we found traces of
wood, showing that poles on which to hang drapery had been inserted. The
ground of this lower chamber was entirely covered with a thin brown earth
of a fibrous nature, in appearance somewhat resembling snuff; it was a
foot in depth, and evidently the remains of the drapery which had been
hung around the walls. Prior to the use of coffins the Phoenicians
draped their dead,[6] and amongst this substance we found traces of human
bones.

Thus we were able to arrive at the system of sepulture employed by this
unknown race. Evidently their custom was to place in the upper chamber
broken utensils and the body of an animal belonging to the deceased, and
to reserve the lower chamber for the corpse enshrouded in drapery. For
the use of this upper chamber our parallels are curiously enough all
Phoenician. Perrot gives us an example of two-storied tombs in the
cemetery of Amrit, in Phoenicia, where also the bodies were embedded in
plaster to prevent decay prior to the introduction of the sarcophagus,
reminding us of the closely cemented lower chambers in our mounds. A
mound containing a tomb with one chamber over the other was in 1888
observed in Sardinia, and is given by Della Marmora as of Phoenician
origin. Here, however, the top of the tomb is conical, not flat, as in
our mounds, which would point to a later development of the double
chamber which eventually blossomed forth into the lofty mausolea of the
later Phoenician epoch, and the grandiose tombs of Hellenic structure.

Also at Carthage, that very same year that we were in Bahrein, _i.e._
1889, excavations brought to light certain tombs of the early
Phoenician settlers which also have the double chamber. In answer to
Perrot's assertion that all early Phoenician tombs were _hypogea_, we
may say that as the Bahrein Islands offered no facility for this method
of sepulture, the closely-covered-in mound would be the most natural
substitute.

Before leaving the tombs we opened a second, and a smaller one of coarser
construction, which confirmed in every way the conclusions we had arrived
at in opening the larger tomb. Near the village of Ali, one of the
largest mounds has been pulled to pieces for the stones. By creeping
into the cavities opened we were able to ascertain that the chambers in
this mound were similar to those in the mound we had opened, only they
were double on both stories, and the upper story was also coated with
cement. Two chambers ran parallel to each other, and were joined at the
two extremities.

Sir M. Durand also opened one of the mounds, but unfortunately the roof
of the tomb had fallen in, which prevented him from obtaining any
satisfactory results; but from the general appearance, it would seem to
have been constructed on exactly the same lines as our larger one. Hence
we had the evidence of four tombs to go upon, and felt that these must be
pretty fair specimens of what the many thousands were which extended
around us.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 3: II. 89.]

[Footnote 4: XVI. iii. 4.]

[Footnote 5: _Hist. des langues sémitiques_, ii. 183.]

[Footnote 6: Perrot, _History of Art in Phoenicia_.]



CHAPTER III

OUR VISIT TO RUFA'A


During the time that we spent at Ali we had numerous visitors. The first
day came five camels with two riders apiece, and a train of donkeys,
bringing rich pearl merchants from the capital; these sat in a circle and
complacently drank our coffee and ate our mixed biscuits, without in any
way troubling us, having apparently come for no other object than to get
this slender refreshment.

Next day came Sheikh Mohammed, a young man of seventeen, a nephew of
Sheikh Esau, who was about to wed his uncle's daughter, and was talked of
as the heir-apparent to the throne; he was all gorgeous in a white
embroidered robe, red turban, and head rings bound in royal gold. He
played with our pistols with covetous eyes, ate some English cake, having
first questioned the bazaar-master as to the orthodoxy of its
ingredients, and then he promised us a visit next day.

He came on the morrow, on a beautifully caparisoned horse, with red
trappings and gold tassels. He brought with him many followers and
announced his intention of passing the day with us, rather to our
distress; but we were appeased by the present of a fat lamb with one of
those large bushy tails which remind one forcibly of a lady's bustle, and
suggests that the ingenious milliner who invented these atrocities must
have taken for her pattern an Eastern sheep. This day 'Prince' Mohammed
handled the revolver more covetously than ever, and got so far as
exchanging his scarlet embroidered case, with red silk belt and silver
buckle, for my leathern one.

Sheikh Mohammed was very anxious to see how I could shoot with my
revolver, so a brown pot containing about half a pint of water was put on
a lump of rock as a mark. I was terrified; for I knew if I missed, as I
surely expected, I should bring great discredit on myself and my nation,
and there was such a crowd! My husband said I must try, and I am sure no
one was more astonished than I was that I shattered the pot. If I had not
it would have been said that I only carried the revolver for show.

That afternoon a great cavalcade of gazelle huntsmen called upon us. The
four chief men of these had each a hooded falcon on his arm, and a tawny
Persian greyhound, with long silky tail, at his side. They wore their
sickle-like daggers in their waistbands; their bodies were enveloped in
long cloaks, and their heads in white cloths bound round with the
camel-hair straps; they were accompanied by another young scion of the El
Khalifa family, who bestrode a white Arab steed with the gayest possible
trappings. Thus was this young prince attired: on his head a cashmere
kerchief with gold akkal; he was almost smothered in an orange cloth gown
trimmed with gold and lined with green, the sleeves of which were very
long, cut open at the ends and trimmed; over this robe was cast a black
cloth cloak trimmed with gold on the shoulders, and a richly inlaid sword
dangled at his side, almost as big as himself, for he was but an
undersized boy of fifteen. The sportsmen made a very nice group for our
photography, as did almost everything around us on Bahrein.

Any excavator would have lost patience with the men of Bahrein with whom
we had to deal; tickets had to be issued to prevent more men working than
were wanted, and claiming pay at the end of the day; ubiquity was
essential, for they loved to get out of sight and do nothing; with
unceasing regularity the pipe went round and they paused for a 'drink' at
the bubble-bubble, as the Arabs express it; morning, noon-tide, and
evening prayers were, I am sure, unnecessarily long. Accidents would
happen, which alarmed us at first, until we learnt how ready they were to
cry wolf: one man was knocked over by a stone; we thought by his
contortions some limb must be broken, and we applied vaseline, our only
available remedy, to the bruise; his fellow-workmen then seized him by
the shoulders, he keeping his arms crossed the while, shook him well 'to
put the bones right again,' as they expressed it, and he continued his
work as before.

The bazaar-master and the policeman would come and frantically seize a
tool, and work for a few seconds with herculean vigour by way of example,
which was never followed. 'Yallah!' 'hurry on' (_i.e._ Oh God);
'Marhabbah!' 'very good,' the men would cry, and they would sing and
scream with a vigour that nearly drove us wild. But for the occasional
application of a stick by the bazaar-master and great firmness, we should
have got nothing out of them but noise.

One day we had a mutiny because my husband dismissed two men who came
very late; the rest refused to work, and came dancing round us, shouting
and brandishing spades. One had actually got hold of a naked sword, which
weapon I did not at all like, and I was thankful 'Prince' Mohammed had
not yet got the revolver. For some time they continued this wild weird
dance, consigning us freely to the lower regions as they danced, and then
they all went away, so that the bazaar-master had to be sent in search of
other and more amenable men. Evidently Sheikh Esau, when he entrusted us
to the charge of the bazaar-master and sent policemen with us, was afraid
of something untoward happening. Next day we heard that his majesty was
coming in person with his tents to encamp in our vicinity, and I fancy we
were in more danger from those men than we realised at the moment, fanned
as they are into hatred of the infidel by the fanatical Wahabi; thirty
years ago, I was told, no infidel could have ventured into the centre of
Bahrein with safety.

Another important visitor came on Saturday in the shape of Sheikh
Khallet, a cousin of the ruling chief, with a retinue of ten men, from
Rufa'a, an inland village. We sat for awhile on our heels in rows,
conversing and smiling, and finally accepted an invitation from Sheikh
Khallet to visit him at his village, and make a little tour over the
island. Accordingly, on Sunday morning we started, accompanied by the
bazaar-master, for Rufa'a, and we were not a little relieved to get away
before Sheikh Esau was upon us, and escape the formalities which his
royal presence in our midst would have necessitated.

We had an exceedingly hot ride of it, and the wind was so high that our
position on our donkeys was rendered even more precarious than usual. The
desert sand whirled around us: we shut our eyes, tied down our hats, and
tried to be patient; for miles our road led through the tumuli of those
mysterious dead, who once in their thousands must have peopled Bahrein;
their old wells are still to be seen in the desert, and evidences of a
cultivation which has long ago disappeared. As we approached the edge of
this vast necropolis the mounds grew less and less, until mere heaps of
stones marked the spot where a dead man lay, and then we saw before us
the two villages of Rufa'a. Of these, one is known as Rufa'a Shergeh, or
South-western Rufa'a; the other, which belongs to the young Prince
Mohammed, is called Rufa'a Jebeli. The Rufa'a are much older than
Moharek, or Manamah; they are fortified with castellated walls of mud
brick. Many of the El Khalifa family reside here in comfortable houses.
South-western Rufa'a is quite a big place, and as our arrival became
known all the village turned out to see us. The advent of an English lady
among them was something too excessively novel: even close-veiled women
forgot their prudery, and peered out from their blue coverings, screaming
with laughter, and pointing as they screamed to the somewhat appalled
object of their mirth. 'Hade bibi!' ('there goes the lady'), shouted they
again and again. No victorious potentate ever had a more triumphant entry
into his capital than the English 'bibi' had on entering South-western
Rufa'a.

Sheikh Khallet was ready to receive us in his _kahwa_ or reception-room,
furnished solely by strips of matting and a camel-hair rug with coarse
embroidery on it; two pillows were produced for us, and Arabs squatted on
the matting all round the wall, for it was Sheikh Khallet's morning
reception, or _majilis_, just then, and we were the lions of the
occasion. Our host, we soon learnt, rather to our dismay, was a most
rigid ascetic--a Wahabi to the backbone. He allows of no internal
decorations in his house; no smoking is allowed, no wine, only perpetual
coffee and perpetual prayers; our prospects were not of the most
brilliant. Some of the Wahabi think even coffee wrong. After a while all
the company left, and Sheikh Khallet intimated to us that the room was
now our own. Two more large pillows were brought, and rugs were laid
down; as for the rest we were dependent on our own very limited
resources. We had brought our own sheets with us.

[Illustration: THE INTERIOR OF SHEIKH SABA'S HOUSE AT RUFA'A, BAHREIN]

Sheikh Saba, who had married Sheikh Khallet's sister, was a great
contrast to our host; he had been in Bombay and had imbibed in his
travels a degree of worldliness which ill became a Wahabi. He had filled
his house, to which he took us, with all sorts of baubles--gilt
looking-glasses hanging on the walls; coloured glass balls in rows and
rows up to the ceiling, each on a little looking-glass; lovely pillows
and carpets, Zanzibar date baskets, Bombay inlaid chests, El Hasa
coffee-pots, and a Russian tea-urn--a truly marvellous conglomeration of
things, which produced on us a wonderful sense of pleasure and repose
after the bareness of our host's abode. Sheikh Saba wore only his long
white shirt and turban, and so unconventional was he that he allowed his
consort to remain at one end of the room whilst my husband was there.

The courtyards of these houses are architecturally interesting: the
Saracenic arch, the rosettes of open-work stucco, the squares of the same
material with intricate patterns--great boons in a hot land to let in the
air without the sun. There is also another contrivance for obtaining air;
in building the house a niche three feet wide is left in the outer wall,
closed in on the inner side except for about a foot. It is funny to see
the heads of muffled women peering out of these air-shafts, into which
they have climbed to get an undisturbed view. Here some of the women wear
the Arabian _buttra_ or mask, which, while it hides their features, gives
their eyes full play. They are very inquisitive. Some of the women one
meets on Bahrein are highly picturesque when you see them without the
dark-blue covering.

I was fetched to one harem after the other, always followed by a dense
crowd, to the apparent annoyance of my hostesses, who, however, seemed
powerless to prevent the intrusion. I saw one woman holding on to the top
of the door and standing on the shoulders of one who was squatting on the
floor. One good lady grew enraged at the invasion, and threw a cup of hot
coffee in an intruder's face.

In the afternoon we rode over to Mountainous (and, it might be added,
ruinous) Rufa'a.

It is built on a cliff, 50 feet above the lowest level of the desert;
from here there is a view over a wide, bleak expanse of sand,
occasionally relieved by an oasis, the result of a well and irrigation,
and beyond this the eye rests on Jebel Dukhan, 'the mountain of mist,'
which high-sounding name has been given to a mass of rocks in the centre
of Bahrein, rising 400 feet above the plain, and often surrounded by a
sea-fog; for Bahrein, with its low-lying land, is often in a mist. Some
mornings on rising early we looked out of our tent to find ourselves
enveloped in a perfect London fog--our clothes were soaking, the sand on
the floor of our tent was soft and adhesive; then in an hour the bright
orb of heaven would disperse all this, for we were very far south indeed,
on the coast of Arabia. Alas! on arrival we found that our young friend
Sheikh Mohammed was out, for he had to be in attendance on his uncle,
Sheikh Esau, who had just arrived at his tent near our encampment, and he
had to provide all his uncle's meals; we saw a donkey with a cauldron on
its back large enough to boil a sheep in, large copper trays, and many
other articles despatched for the delectation of the sovereign and his
retinue. Sheikh Mohammed's mother, quite a queenly-looking woman, was
busying herself about the preparation of these things, and when she had
finished she invited us to go into the harem. My husband felt the honour
and confidence reposed in him exceedingly, but, alas! all the women were
veiled; all he could contemplate was their lovely hands and feet dyed
yellow with henna, their rich red shirts, their aprons adorned with
coins, their gold bracelets and turquoise rings. However I assured him
that with one solitary exception he had lost nothing by not seeing their
faces. In one corner of the women's room was the biggest bed I ever saw:
it had eight posts, a roof, a fence, a gate, and steps up to it; it is a
sort of daïs, in fact, where they spread their rugs and sleep, and high
enough to lay beds under it too. Occasionally we got a good peep at the
women as they were working in the fields, or cutting with semi-circular
saws the scrub that grows in the desert for their cattle.

Half-way between the two Rufa'as we halted at a well, the great point of
concourse for the inhabitants of both villages. It was evening, and
around it were gathered crowds of the most enchanting people in every
possible costume. Women and donkeys were groaning under the weight of
skins filled with water; men were engaged in filling them, but it seems
to be against the dignity of a male Arab to carry anything. With the
regularity of a steam crane the woodwork of the well creaked and groaned
with a sound like a bagpipe, as the donkeys toiled up and down their
slope, bringing to the surface the skins of water. It was a truly Arabian
sight, with the desert all around us, and the little garden hard by which
Sheikh Saba cultivates with infinite toil, having a weary contest with
the surrounding sand which invades his enclosure.

The sun was getting low when we returned to our bare room at Sheikh
Khallet's, and to our great contentment we were left alone, for our day
had been a busy one, and a strain on our conversational powers. Our host
handed us over to the tender mercies of a black slave, Zamzam by name,
wonderfully skilled at cooking with a handful of charcoal on circular
stoves coloured red, and bearing a marked resemblance to the altars of
the Persian fire-worshippers. He brought us in our dinner: first he
spread a large round mat of fine grass on the floor; in the centre of
this he deposited a washing basin filled with boiled rice and a bowl of
_ghi_ or rancid grease to make it palatable; before us were placed two
tough chickens, a bowl of dates, and for drink we had a bowl of milk with
delicious fresh butter floating in it. Several sheets of bread about the
size and consistency of bath towels were also provided, but no implements
of any kind to assist us in conveying these delicacies to our mouths.
With pieces of bread we scooped up the rice, with our fingers we managed
the rest, and we were glad no one was looking on to witness our struggles
save Zamzam with a ewer of water, with which he washed us after the
repast was over, and then we put ourselves away for the night.

Very early next morning we were on the move for our trip across the
island. The journey would be too long for donkeys, they said, so Sheikh
Khallet mounted us on three of his best camels, with lovely saddles of
inlaid El Hasa work, with two pommels, one in front and one behind, like
little pillars, capped and inlaid with silver. We--that is to say my
husband and I and the bazaar-master--ambled along at a pretty smart pace
across the desert in the direction of a fishing village called Asker, on
the east coast of the island, near which were said to exist ancient
remains; these, of course, turned out to be myths, but the village was
all that could be desired in quaintness; the houses were all of bamboo,
and the floors strewn over with little white helix shells; in one of them
we were regaled with coffee, and found it delicious after our hot ride;
then we strolled along the shore and marvelled at the bamboo skiffs, the
curiously-fashioned oars and water casks, the stone anchors, and other
primitive implements used by this seafaring race. The bazaar-master would
not let us tarry as long as we could have wished, for he was anxious for
us to arrive before the midday heat at a rocky cave in the 'mountain of
mist,' in the centre of the island. We dismounted from our camels, and
proceeded to examine Jebel Dukhan, an escarped mass of limestone rocks
with rugged outline and deep caves. From the gentle elevation of the
misty mountain one gets a very fair idea of the extent and character of
Bahrein. The island has been likened to a sheet of silver in a sea of
pearl, but it looked to us anything but silvery, and for all the world
like one of the native sheets of bread--oval and tawny. It is said to be
twenty-seven miles long and twelve wide at its broadest point. From the
clearness of the atmosphere and the distinctness with which we saw the
sea all around us, it could not have been much more. There are many tiny
villages dotted about here and there, recognisable only by their nest of
palm trees and their strips of verdure. In the dim distance, to our left,
arose the mountains of Arabia; beyond, the flat coast-line of El Hasa,
encircling that wild, mysterious land of Nejd, where the Wahabi dwell--a
land forbidden to the infidel globe-trotter.

Yet another sheikh of the El Khalifa family was introduced to us, by name
Abdullah; he owns the land about here, and having been advised of our
coming, had prepared a repast for us, much on the lines of the one we had
had the evening before.

We much enjoyed our cool rest and repast in Abdullah's cave, and for two
hours or more our whole party lay stretched on the ground courting
slumber, whilst our camels grazed around. Another sheikh was anxious to
take us to his house for the night, but we could not remain, as our work
demanded our return to camp that night, so we compromised matters by
taking coffee with him on a green oasis near his house, under a blazing
sun, without an atom of shade, and without a thing against which to lean
our tired backs. Then we hurried back to Rufa'a, to take leave of our
friend, Sheikh Khallet, and started off late in the evening for our home.

Soon we came in sight of Sheikh Esau's tent; his majesty was evidently
expecting us, for by his side in the royal tent were placed two high
thrones, formed of camel saddles covered with sheepskins, for us to sit
upon, whilst his Arabian majesty and his courtiers sat on the ground. As
many as could be accommodated sat round within the walls of the tent.
Those for whom there was no room inside continued the line, forming a
long loop which extended for some yards outside the tent. Here all his
nephews and cousins were assembled. That gay youth Sheikh Mohammed, on
ordinary occasions as full of fun as an English schoolboy, sat there in
great solemnity, incapable of a smile though I maliciously tried to raise
one. When he came next morning to visit us he was equally solemn, until
his uncle had left our tent; then his gaiety returned as if by magic, and
with it his covetousness for my pistol. Eventually an exchange was
effected, he producing a coffee-pot and an inlaid bowl, which had taken
our fancy, as the price.

On the surrounding desert a small gazelle is abundant. One day we came
across a cavalcade of Bahreini sportsmen, who looked exceedingly
picturesque in their flowing robes and floating red kaffiehs, and riding
gaily caparisoned horses, with crimson trappings and gold tassels. Each
had on his arm a hooded falcon and by his side a Persian greyhound. When
the gazelle is sighted the falcon is let loose; it skims rapidly along
the ground, attacks the head of the animal, and so confuses it that it
falls an easy prey to the hounds in pursuit. Albuquerque in his
'Commentaries' says: 'There are many who hunt with falcons about the size
of our goshawks, and take by their aid certain creatures smaller than
gazelles, training very swift hounds to assist the falcon in catching the
prey.'

In their ordinary life the Bahrein people still retain the primitiveness
of the Bedouin.

There are about fifty villages scattered over the islands, recognisable
from a distance by their patch of cultivation and groups of date-palms.
Except at Manamah and Moharek they have little or nothing to do with the
pearl fisheries, but are an exceedingly industrious race of peasants who
cultivate the soil by means of irrigation from the numerous wells with
which the island is blessed. There are generally three to six small
wheels attached to the beam, which is across the well, over which the
ropes of as many large leathern buckets pass. When these buckets rise
full they tilt themselves over, the contents is then taken by little
channels to a reservoir which feeds the dykes, transferred thence to the
palms in buckets raised by the leverage of a date-trunk lightly swung by
ropes to a frame, and balanced at one end by a basket of earth into which
it is inserted; it is so light to lift that women are generally employed
in watering the trees.

To manure their date-groves they use the fins of a species of ray fish
called _awwal_, steeped in water till they are putrid; _awwal_, by the
way, was an ancient name of the Island of Bahrein, perhaps because it was
the first island of the group in size, _awwal_ in Arabic meaning _first_.

The area of fertility is very rich and beautiful; it extends all along
the north coast of the island, and the fishing village of Nayim, with its
bamboo huts nestling beneath the palm-trees, is highly picturesque; and
all this fertility is due to the number of fresh-water springs which
burst up here from underground, similar, no doubt, to those before
alluded to which spring up in the sea. The Arabs will tell you that these
springs come straight from the Euphrates, by an underground channel
through which the great river flows beneath the Persian Gulf, doubtless
being the same legend alluded to by Pliny when he says, 'Flumen per quod
Euphratem emergere putant.' There are many of them--the Garsari well,
Um-i-Shaun, Abu Zeidan, and the Adari, which last supplies many miles of
date-groves through a canal of ancient workmanship. The Adari well is one
of the great sights of Bahrein, being a deep basin of water 22 yards wide
by 40 long, beautifully clear, and full of prismatic colours. It is said
to come up with such force from underground that a diver is driven back,
and all around it are ruins of ancient date, proving that it was prized
by former inhabitants as a bath. The water is slightly brackish, as is
that of all these sources, so that those who can afford it send for water
to a well between Rufa'a Jebeli and Rufa'a Shergeh--called Haneini, which
is exceedingly good, and camels laden with skins may be seen coming into
Manamah every morning with this treasure. We obtained our water supply
thence. The other well, Abu Zeidan, is situated in the midst of the ruins
known as Beled-al-Kadim, or 'old town.'

Two days later our camp was struck, and our long cavalcade, with
Seid-bin-Omar, the bazaar-master, at its head, returned to Manamah. He
had ordered for us quite a sumptuous repast at his mansion by the sea,
and having learnt our taste for curiosities, he brought us as presents a
buckler of camel-skin, his 8-foot-long lance, and a lovely bowl of El
Hasa work--that is to say, minute particles of silver inlaid in wonderful
patterns in wood. This inlaying is quite a distinctive art of the
district of Arabia along the north-eastern coast known as El Hasa;
curious old guns, saddles, bowls, and coffee-pots, in fact everything
with an artistic tendency, comes from that country.

The day following was the great Thursday's Market at Beled-al-Kadim, near
the old minarets and the wells. Mounted once more on donkeys, we joined
the train of peasants thither bound; I being as usual the object of much
criticism, and greatly interfering with the business of the day. One male
starer paid for his inquisitiveness, by tumbling over a stall of
knick-knacks, and precipitating himself and all the contents to the
ground.

The minarets and pillars of the old mosques looked down on a strange
scene that day. In the half-ruined, domed houses of the departed race,
stall-holders had pitched their stalls: lanes and cross lanes of
closely-packed vendors of quaint crockery, newly-cut lucerne, onions,
fish, and objects of European fabric such as only Orientals admire, and
amongst all was a compact mass of struggling humanity; but it was easy to
see that the date-palm and its produce formed the staple trade of the
place. There were all shapes and sizes of baskets made of palm-leaves,
dates in profusion, fuel of the dried spathes, the male spathes for
fructifying the palm, and palm-leaf matting--the only furniture, and
sometimes the only roofing of their comfortless huts.

The costumes were dazzling in their brilliancy and quaintness. It was a
scene never to be forgotten, and one of which a photograph, which I took
from a gentle eminence, gives but a faint idea. It was our last scene on
Bahrein--a fitting conclusion to our sojourn thereon.



MASKAT



CHAPTER IV

SOME HISTORICAL FACTS ABOUT OMAN


On two separate occasions we visited Maskat. The first time was in 1889
on our way to Persia, and the second in 1895 when we were starting for
Dhofar, on the journey which I shall describe later.

On each occasion we had to reach it by way of India, for like all the
rest of the Persian Gulf Maskat is really an outlying portion of our
Indian Empire. By just crossing a range of mountains in Persia you cross
the metaphorical watershed between our India and Foreign Offices. At
Shiraz you hesitate between India and England. You ask the question,
'Shall I send my letters _viâ_ Bombay, or _viâ_ Russia?' You hasten to
get rid of your rupees, for this is the last place where their merit is
recognised. North of Shiraz you are in a distinctly foreign country. Our
officials hail from the Foreign Office and belong to the legation of
Teheran. You are no longer under British protection, you are in the
dominions of the Shah.

But so long as you are on the shores of the Gulf you are, so to speak, in
India. The officials receive their pay in degenerate rupees instead of
pounds sterling, they live in 'bungalows,' they talk of 'tiffin,' and eat
curry at every meal.

We keep a British ship of war in the Gulf. We feel that it is a matter of
the first importance that those countries should remain under our
protection, and that the Turks should not build forts at Fao and
otherwise interfere with our trade in the Karoun, and that no other power
should have a foothold thereon. The last generation talked much about a
Euphrates Valley Railway, with its terminus at Koweit; we now hear a
great deal about the opening up of the Karoun, but it is the lordship of
the Gulf which is the chief matter of importance just at present both for
India and for ourselves.

In this district Maskat is the most important point; the kingdom of Oman,
of which it is nominally the capital, commands the entrance to the Gulf.
In the ninth century of the Christian era ships trading from Sherif to
China took in water at Maskat from the wells which still supply the town.
Between Aden and the Persian Gulf it is the only harbour where ships of
any size can find anchorage, and it may, in fact, be said to play much
the same part with respect to the Persian Gulf that Aden does to the Red
Sea. In many other ways the places are strikingly similar. They are both
constructed on arid, volcanic rocks, which produce the smallest amount of
verdure and reflect the greatest amount of heat; water in both of them is
the scarcest of commodities. Of all places in the world Maskat has the
reputation of being the hottest, facing, as it does, the Indian Ocean,
and protected from every cooling breeze by rugged volcanic hills, without
a blade of cultivation upon them, and which reflect and intensify the
scorching rays of the burning sun. Aden is said to have but a piece of
brown paper between it and the infernal fires. Maskat would seem to want
even this meagre protection, and 'gives,' as a Persian poet has expressed
it, 'to the panting sinner a lively anticipation of his future destiny.'

The approach to the cove of Maskat is highly striking. Many-coloured
volcanic rocks of fantastic form protect the horseshoe-shaped harbour,
whilst behind the white town, as far as the eye can reach, stretch deeply
serrated, arid mountains, which culminate in the heights of Jebel Akhdar,
or the 'Green Mountains,' some fifty miles, as the crow flies, inland,
reaching an elevation of 9,000 feet. We were told that snow sometimes
falls in the winter-time on Jebel Akhdar, and it rejoices in a certain
amount of verdure, from which it derives its name. This range forms the
backbone of Oman, and at its foot lie Nezweh and Rostok, the old capitals
of the long line of imams of Oman, before Maskat was a place of so much
importance as it is at present. The streams which come down from these
mountains nowhere reach the sea, but are lost in the deserts, and,
nevertheless, in some places they fertilise oases in the Omani desert,
where the vegetation is most luxuriant and fever very rife. Grapes grow
on the slopes of Jebel Akhdar, and the inhabitants, despite the
strictures of Mohammed, both make and drink wine of them, and report says
(how far it is true I know not) that the Portuguese exported thence the
vines to which they gave the name of muscatel. The inhabitants of this
wild range are chiefly Bedou and pastoral, and it is from this quarter
that the troubles which beset the poor sultan, Feysul, generally emanate.

The harbour of Maskat is full of life. The deep blue sea is studded with
tiny craft: canoes painted red, green, and white, steered by paddles,
swarm around the steamer; fishermen paddling themselves about on a plank
or two tied together, or swimming astride of a single one, hawk their
wares from boat to boat. The oars of the larger boats are generally made
with a flat circular piece of wood fastened on to a long pole, and are
really more like paddles than oars. In the northern corner lie huddled
together large dhows, which, during the north-east monsoons, make the
journey to Zanzibar, returning at the change of the season. Most of these
belong to Banyan merchants in Maskat, and are manned by Indian sailors.
Close to them is the small steamer _Sultanieh_, which was presented by
the Sultan of Zanzibar to his cousin Sultan Tourki of Maskat, now a
perfectly useless craft, which cannot even venture outside the harbour by
reason of the holes in its side. From its mast floats the red banner of
Oman, the same flag that Arab boats at Aden fly. It was originally the
banner of Yemen, to which place the Arabs who rule in Oman trace their
origin; for early in our era, according to Arab tradition, Oman was
colonised and taken possession of by descendants of the old Himyarites of
Yemen.

The shore of the town is very unpleasant, reeking with smells, and at low
tide lined with all the refuse and offal of the place. At high tide
shoals of fish come in to feed on this refuse, and in their train follow
immense flocks of seagulls, which make the edge of the water quite white
as they fly along and dive after their prey. Here and there out of the
sand peep the barrels of some rusty old cannon, ghostly relics of the
Portuguese occupation.

In the middle of the beach is the sultan's palace, but it is immeasurably
inferior to the new residency of the British political agent, which
stands at the southern extremity of the town, just where it can get all
the breeze that is to be had through a gap in the rocks opening to the
south; here we were most hospitably entertained by Colonel Hayes Sadler
on our second sojourn. Even in this favoured position the heat in summer
is almost unendurable, making Maskat one of the least coveted posts that
the Indian Government has at its disposal. The cliffs immediately round
the town are of a shiny schist, almost impossible to walk upon, and
reflect the rays of the sun with great intensity.

On either side of the town stand two old Portuguese forts kept up and
manned by the sultan's soldiers; in them are still to be seen old rusty
pieces of ordnance, one of which bears a Portuguese inscription with the
date 1606, and the name and arms of Philip III. of Spain; also the small
Portuguese chapel in the fort is preserved and bears the date of 1588.
These are the principal legacies left to posterity by those intrepid
pioneers of civilisation in a spot which they occupied for nearly a
century and a half. These forts testify to having been of great size and
strength in former times, and show considerable architectural features,
and the traces of a luxuriant and opulent population.

With regard to the ancient history of Oman, there is little known. The
empire of the Himyarites, which filled Yemen and the Hadhramout valley
with interesting remains, does not appear to have extended its sway so
far eastward; no Sabæan remains have as yet been found in Oman, nor are
there any that I have heard of further east than the frankincense country
of Dhofar, over six hundred miles west of Maskat. Neither Ptolemy nor the
author of the 'Periplus' gives us any definite information about the
existence of a town in the harbour of Maskat, and consequently the first
reliable information we have to go upon is from the early Arabian
geographers.

From Torisi we learn that Sobar was the most ancient town of Oman; but
that in his day Maskat was flourishing, and that 'in old times the China
ships used to sail from there.'

Oman was included in Yemen by these earlier geographers, doubtless from
the fact that Arabs from Yemen were its first colonisers; but all that is
known with any certainty is that, from the ninth century a.d. a long line
of imams ruled over Oman, with their capitals at Nezweh or Rostok, at the
foot of Jebel Akhdar. This title, by which the Arab rulers were known,
had been conferred on the Arab rulers of Oman for centuries, and
signifies a sort of priest-king, like Melchisedek, to whom, curiously
enough, is given the same title in the Koran. The election was always by
popular acclamation, and inasmuch as the Omani do not recognise the two
'imams' who immediately succeeded Mohammed, but chose their own, they
form a separate sect. In olden days the men of Oman were called
'outsiders' by their Mohammedan brethren, because they recognised their
own chief solely as the head of their own religion, and are known
otherwise as the Ibadiet or Ibadhuyah, followers of Abdullah-bin-Ibadh,
as distinct from the Shiahi (Shiites) and Sunni, between which sects the
rest of Islam is pretty equally divided. Internecine wars were always
rife amongst them; but, at the same time, these early Omani had little or
no intercourse with the outer world. Of the internal quarrels of the
country, the Omani historian Salid-bin-Ragik has given a detailed
account, but for the rest of the world they are of little interest. In
those days Oman seems to have had two ports, Sur and Kalhat, on the
Indian Ocean, which were more frequented than Maskat. Marco Polo, 1280
a.d., calls the second Calaiati in his 'Journal,' and describes it as 'a
large city in a gulf called, also, Calatu,' and the Omani paid tribute to
the melek or king of Hormuz for many generations, but with the rise of
Maskat, Sur and Kalhat declined.

Oman first came into immediate contact with Europeans in the year 1506,
when Albuquerque appeared in Maskat harbour bent on his conquest of the
Persian Gulf, and with the object, not even yet accomplished, of making a
route to India by way of the Euphrates valley. From Albuquerque's
'Commentaries' we get a graphic description of the condition of the
country when he reached it.

At first the Arabs were inclined to receive the Portuguese without a
struggle; but, taking courage from the presence of a large army of
Bedouin in the vicinity, they soon showed treacherous intentions towards
the invaders, so that the Portuguese admiral determined to attack the
town and destroy it, and the commentator states that 'within were burned
many provisions, thirty-four ships in all, large and small, many fishing
barks, and an arsenal full of every requisite for ship-building.'

After effecting a landing, the Portuguese ordered 'three gunners with
axes to cut the supports of the mosque, which was a large and very
beautiful edifice, the greater part being built of timber finely carved,
and the upper part of stucco,' and it was accounted a propitious miracle
by the Portuguese that the men who performed this deed were not killed by
the falling timber. Maskat was then burnt and utterly destroyed; and
'having cut off the ears and noses of the prisoners he liberated them.'
The commentator concludes his remarks on Maskat as follows: 'Maskat is of
old a market for carriage of horses and dates; it is a very elegant town,
with very fine houses. It is the principal _entrepôt_ of the kingdom of
Ormuz, into which all the ships that navigate these parts must of
necessity enter.'

The hundred and forty years during which the Portuguese occupied Maskat
and the adjacent coast town was a period of perpetual trouble and
insurrection. The factory and forts of Jellali and Merani were commenced
in 1527, but the forts in their present condition were not erected till
after the union of Portugal and Spain, in 1580; the order for their
erection came from Madrid, and the inscription bears the date 1588. Not
only were the Arabs constantly on the look-out to dislodge their
unwelcome visitors, but the Turks attacked them likewise, with a navy
from the side of the Persian Gulf, and the naval victory gained by the
Portuguese off Maskat in 1554 is considered by Turkish historians to
have been a greater blow to their power than the better known battle off
Prevesa in 1538, when D'Oria defeated Barbarossa and obliged Solyman to
relinquish his attempt on Vienna.

When, after the union of Portugal with Spain, the colonial activity of
the former country declined, the colonies in the Persian Gulf fell one by
one into the hand of the Persians and Arabs.

Out of the kingdom of Oman they were driven in 1620, and confined to the
town of Maskat by the victorious imam, Nasir-bin-Murshid, during whose
reign of twenty-six years the legend is told that no man in Oman died a
natural death. Two years later they were also driven from Maskat itself,
and those two forts Jellali and Merani which they had built, the last
foothold of the Portuguese on the Omani territory, were taken from them.

The historian Salil tells the amusing story of the final fall of Maskat
into the hands of the Arabs. The Portuguese governor, Pereira, was deeply
enamoured of the daughter of a Banyan merchant of Maskat; the man at
first refused to let him have his daughter, but at length consented, on
condition that the wedding did not take place for some months. Pereira
was now entirely in the hands of the Banyan and did everything he told
him; so the crafty Indian communicated with the Arabs outside Portuguese
territory, telling them to be ready when due notice was given to attack
the town. He then proceeded to persuade Pereira to clean out the water
tanks of the fort, and to clear out the old supplies of food preparatory
to revictualling them; then, when the forts were without food and water,
and finally having damped all the powder, he gave notice to the Arabs,
who attacked and took the town on a Sunday evening, when the Portuguese
were carousing.

Captain Hamilton gives another account in his travels,[7] and tells us
that the Arabs were exasperated by a piece of pork, wrapped up in paper,
being sent as a present to the imam by the governor, Pereira, and he also
adds that the Portuguese were all put to the sword, save eighteen, who
embraced Mohammedanism; and that the Portuguese cathedral was made the
imam's palace, where he took up his residence for a month or two every
year.

Since those days these two forts have been regularly used by rival
claimants to the sovereignty of Oman as convenient points of vantage from
which to pepper one another, to the infinite discomfiture of the
inhabitants beneath.

The departure of the Portuguese did not greatly benefit the Omani.
Writing in 1624 to the East India Company, Thomas Kerridge speaks of
Maskat as 'a beggarly, poor town,' and 'Ormusz,' he says, 'is become a
heap of ruins.' At last, in 1737, owing to the jealousies of the rival
imams, Seid and Ibn Murshad, Maskat was taken by the Persians. They were,
however, soon driven out again by Ahmed-bin-Sayid, or Saoud, a man of
humble origin but a successful general; as a reward for his services he
was elected imam in 1741, and was the founder of the dynasty which still
rules there.

The successors of Ahmed-bin-Sayid found the obligations of being imam,
and the oath which it entailed to fight against the infidel, both awkward
and irksome, so his grandson, Saoud, who succeeded in 1779, never assumed
the title of imam, but was content with that of sultan, and consequently
the imamate of Oman has, with one short exception, been in abeyance ever
since.

Under the first rulers of this dynasty Oman became a state of
considerable importance. During the reigns of Sultan Saoud and his son
Sultan Saoud Sayid, a large part of the Arabian mainland was under the
rule of Oman, as also Bahrein, Hormuz, Larij, Kishm, Bandar Abbas, many
islands and their pearl fisheries, and Linga, also a good part of the
coast of Africa; and it was they who established the alliances with
England and the United States.

The first political relations between the East India Company and the
ruler of Oman took place in 1798, the object being to secure the alliance
of Oman against the Dutch and French. A second treaty was made two years
later, and it was provided in it that 'an English gentleman of
respectability on the part of the Honourable East India Company, should
always reside at the port of Maskat.'

An English gentleman of respectability has consequently resided there
ever since, and from the days of Sultan Sayid has become the chief factor
in the government of the place.

Sultan Sayid-bin-Sayid stands out prominently as the great ruler of Oman,
and under his rule Oman and its capital, Maskat, reached the greatest
pitch of eminence to be found in all its annals. He ascended the throne
in 1804, and reigned for fifty-two years.

He found his country in dire distress at the time of his accession, owing
to the attacks of the fanatical Wahabi from Central Arabia, who had
carried their victorious arms right down to Maskat, and had imposed their
bigoted rules and religious regulations on the otherwise liberal-minded
Mohammedans of Eastern Arabia. With Turkish aid on the one hand, and
British support on the other, Sultan Sayid succeeded in relieving his
country from these terrible scourges, and drove them back into the
central province of Nejd, from which they had carried their bloodthirsty
and fanatical wars over nearly the whole of the peninsula, and, when all
fear from the Wahabi was over, Sultan Sayid extended his conquests in all
directions. He occupied several points on the Persian Gulf and the
opposite coast of Beluchistan, and materially assisted the Indian
Government in putting down the piracy which had for long closed the Gulf
to all trade; and finally, in 1856, he added the important Arab
settlement of Mombasa and Zanzibar, on the African coast, to his
dominion.

During this long reign Maskat prospered exceedingly. It was the great
trade centre for the Persian Gulf, inasmuch as it was a safe depôt, where
merchants could deposit their goods without fear of piracy; vessels going
to and from India before the introduction of steam used frequently to
stop at Maskat for water. As a trade centre in those days it was almost
as important as Aden, and with the Indian Government Sultan Sayid was
always on most friendly terms.

When Sultan Sayid died, the usual dispute took place between his
successors. England promptly stepped in to settle this dispute, and, with
the foresight she so admirably displays on such occasions, she advocated
a division of Sayid's empire. Zanzibar was given to one claimant, Oman to
the other, and for the future Oman and Sultan Tourki remained under
British protection.

Since the death of Sultan Sayid the power of Oman has most lamentably
gone down, partly owing to the very success of his attempts to put down
piracy; this, followed by the introduction of steam, has diminished the
importance of Maskat as a safe port for the merchants to deposit their
wares. It is also partly due to the jealousies which prevail between the
descendants of Sayid who rule in Zanzibar and in Maskat. Palgrave in 1863
describes Maskat as having 40,000 inhabitants; there are probably half
that number now.

The Sultan of Zanzibar has to pay an annual tribute of 40,000 crowns to
his relative of Maskat in order to equalise the inheritance, and this
tribute being a constant source of trouble, of late years he has taken to
urging the wild Bedouin tribes in Oman to revolt against the present,
rather weak-minded sultan who reigns there. He supplies them with the
sinews of war, namely money and ammunition, and the insurrection which
occurred in February 1895 was chiefly due to this motive power.

One of his sisters married a German, the English conniving at her escape
from Zanzibar in a gunboat. On her husband's death, her elder brother
having in the meantime also died, she returned to Zanzibar thinking her
next brother, the present sultan, to be of a milder disposition, but he
refused to take any notice of her and her children.

The present ruler of Maskat, Sultan Feysul, is a grandson of Sultan Sayid
and son of Sultan Tourki by an Abyssinian mother. Since his accession, in
1889, he has been vacillating in his policy; he has practically had but
little authority outside the walls of Maskat, and were it not for the
support of the British Government and the proximity of a gunboat, he
would long ago have ceased to rule. When we first saw him, in 1889, he
was but a beardless boy, timid and shy, and now he has reached man's
estate he still retains the nervous manner of his youth. He lives in
perpetual dread of his elder brother Mahmoud, who, being the son of a
negress, was not considered a suitable person to inherit the throne. The
two brothers, though living in adjacent houses, never meet without their
own escorts to protect them from each other.

The way in which Feysul obtained possession of the Sultan's palace on his
father's death, to the exclusion of his brother, is curious.

Feysul said his grief for his father was so great that his feelings would
not admit of his attending the funeral, so he stayed at home while
Mahmoud went, who on his return found the door locked in his face.

The palace is entered by a formidable-looking door, decorated with large
spiked bosses of brass. This opens into a small court which contained at
the time of our first visit the most imposing sight of the place, namely
the lion in his cage to the left, into which Feysul was in the habit of
introducing criminals of the deepest dye, to be devoured by this lordly
executioner. Opposite to this cage of death is another, a low
probationary cage, which, when we were there, contained a prisoner
stretched out at full length, for the cage is too low to admit of a
sitting posture. From this point he could view the horrors of the lion's
cage, so that during his incarceration he might contemplate what might
happen to him if he continued, on liberation, to pursue his evil ways.
Another door leads into a vaulted passage full of guards, through which
we passed and entered into an inner court with a pool in the centre and a
wide cloister around it supporting a gallery.

Sultan Feysul was then a very young man, not much over twenty. He was
greatly interested in seeing us, for we were the first English travellers
who had visited him since his accession. We caught sight of him peeping
at us over the balcony as we passed through the courtyard below, and we
had to clamber up a ladder to the gallery, where we found him ready to
welcome us. He seized our hands and shook them warmly, and then led us
with much effusiveness to his _khawah_, a long room just overhanging the
sea, which is his reception and throne-room. Here were high,
cane-bottomed chairs around the walls, and at one end a red chair, which
is the throne; just over it were hung two grotesque pictures of our Queen
and the Prince Consort, such as one could buy for a penny at a fair. They
are looked upon as objects of great value here, and act as befitting
symbols of our protectorate.

The imam fed us with sweets and coffee, asked us innumerable questions,
and seemed full of boyish fun. Certainly with his turban of blue and red
checked cotton (which would have been a housemaid's duster at home), his
faded, greenish yellow cloak, fastened round his slender frame by a red
girdle, he looked anything but a king. As we were preparing to depart the
young monarch grew apparently very uneasy, and impatiently shouted
something to his attendants, and when the servant came in, Feysul hurried
to him, seized four little gilt bottles of attar of roses, thrust two of
them into each of our pockets, and with some compliments as to our Queen
having eyes everywhere, and Feysul's certainty that she would look after
him, the audience was at an end.

Sultan Feysul was a complete autocrat as far as his jurisdiction
extended. At his command a criminal could be executed either in the
lion's cage or in a little square by the sea, and his body cut up and
thrown into the waves. The only check upon him was the British Resident.
His father, Tourki, not long before sewed up a woman in a sack and
drowned her, whereupon a polite message came from the Residency
requesting him not to do such things again. Hence young Feysul dared not
be very cruel--to offend the English would have been to lose his
position.

His half brother, Mahmoud, whose mother was a Swahili, lives next door to
his brother, Sultan Feysul, in the enjoyment of a pension of 600 dollars
a mouth. The uncles, however, are not so amenable. The eldest of them,
according to Arabian custom, claimed the throne and had collected an army
amongst the Bedouin to assert his claims, and was then in possession of
all the country, with the exception of Maskat and El Matra, for Feysul
had no money, and hence he could not get his soldiers to fight. But then
it had been intimated to Feysul that in all probability the English would
support his claims if he conducted himself prudently and wisely. So
there was every likelihood that in due course he would be thoroughly
established in the dominions of his father.

When we visited the town for the second time an even more serious
rebellion was impending, the Bedouin of the interior, under Sheikh Saleh,
having attacked Maskat itself. The sultan and his brother, who hastily
became friends, retired together to the castle, and the town was given up
to plunder. There were dead bodies lying on the beach, and but for the
kindness of Colonel Hayes Sadler, the British Resident, there would have
been difficulties in the fort as regards water. They relied principally
on H.M.S. _Sphinx_, which lay in the harbour to protect British
interests, and to maintain Sultan Feysul in his position.

This state of terror lasted three weeks, when the rebels, having looted
the bazaars and wrecked the town, were eventually persuaded to retire,
free and unpunished, with a considerable cash payment; probably intending
to return for more when the cooler weather should come, and the date
harvest be over. With the consent of, and at the request of, the Indian
Government, Sultan Feysul has imposed additional heavy duty on all the
produce coming in from the rebel tribes, that he may have a fund from
which to pay indemnities to foreigners who suffered loss during the
invasion. A good many Banyan merchants, British subjects, suffered
losses, and their claim alone amounted to 120,000 rupees. As a natural
result of this disaster and its ignominious termination, Sultan Feysul's
authority at the present moment is absolutely _nil_ outside the walls of
Maskat and El Matra, and he is still in a state of declared war with all
the Bedouin chiefs in the mountains behind Maskat.

A few British subjects were scared, but not killed, and as all was over
in a few weeks no one thought much more about it except those more
immediately interested, and few paused to think what an important part
Maskat has played in the opening up of the Persian Gulf and the
suppression of piracy, and what an important part it may yet play should
the lordship of the Persian Gulf ever become a _casus belli_.

Although Maskat has been under Indian influence for most of this century,
it has latterly gone down much in the world; the trade of the place has
well-nigh departed, and with a weak sultan at the head of affairs,
confidence will be long in returning. Unquestionably our own Political
Agent may be said to be the ruler in Maskat, and his authority is
generally backed up by the presence of a gunboat. There is also an
American Consul there, who chiefly occupies himself in trade and steamer
agencies, and in 1895 the French also sent a Consul to inquire into the
question of the slave trade, which is undoubtedly the burning question in
Arabia.

Whilst England has been doing all she can to put slavery down, it is
complained that much is carried on under cover of the French flag,
obtained by Arab dhows under false pretexts from the French Consul
resident in Zanzibar. Sultan Feysul remonstrated with France on this
point, and the appointment of a Consul is the result.

The great reason for our unpopularity in Arabia is due without doubt to
our suppression of this trade. Slavery is inherent in the Arab; he does
as little work as he can himself, and if he is to have no slaves nothing
will be done, and he must die. In other parts of South Arabia--Yemen, the
Hadhramout, the Mahra country, and Dhofar--slavery is universal; and
there is no doubt about it the slaves are treated very well and live
happy lives; but here in Oman, under the very eye of India, slavery must
be checked. Our gunboat, the _Sphinx_, goes the round of the coast to
prevent this traffic in human flesh, and frequently slaves swim out to
the British steamer and obtain their liberty. This naturally makes us
very unpopular in Sur, where the Jenefa tribe have their head-quarters,
the most inveterate slave-traders of Southern Arabia. The natural result
is that whenever they get a chance the Jenefa tribe loot any foreign
vessel wrecked on their shores and murder the crew. In the summer of
1894, however, a boat was wrecked near Ghubet-el-Hashish, containing some
creoles from the Seychelle Islands, after being driven for forty-five
days out of their course by south-east monsoons, during which time three
or four of them had died. The survivors were much exhausted, but the
Bedouin treated them kindly, for a wonder, and brought them safely to
Maskat. For doing this they were handsomely rewarded by the Indian
Government, though they had kept possession of the boat and its contents;
nevertheless, they had saved the lives of the crew, and this, being a
step in the right direction, was thought worthy of reward.

The jealousies, however, of other tribes were so great that the rescuers
could not return to their own country by the land route, but had to be
sent to Sur by sea.

Feysul has had copper coins of his own struck, of the value of a quarter
anna. On the obverse is a picture of Maskat and its forts, around which
in English runs the legend, 'Sultan Feysul-bin-Tourki Sultan and Imam of
Maskat and Oman,' and on the reverse is the Arab equivalent. He has also
introduced an ice-factory, which, however, is now closed, and he wished
to have his own stamps, principally with a view to making money out of
them; but our agent represented to him that it was beneath the dignity of
so great a sultan to make money in so mean a way, and the stamps have
never appeared. Sultan Feysul had done much in the last few years, since
our first visit, to modernise his palace. British influence has abolished
many horrors and cruelties, and the lion having died has not been
replaced.

For the Indian Government the question of Maskat is by no means pleasant,
for, should any other Power choose to interfere and establish an
influence there, it would materially affect the influence which we have
established in the Persian Gulf.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 7: Pinkerton, vol. viii.]



CHAPTER V

MASKAT AND THE OUTSKIRTS


I never saw a place so void of architectural features as the town of
Maskat itself. The mosques have neither domes nor minarets--a sign of the
rigid Wahabi influence which swept over Arabia. This sect refuse to have
any feature about their buildings, or ritual which was not actually
enjoined by Mohammed in his Koran. There are a few carved lintels and
doorways, and the bazaars are quaintly pretty, but beyond this the only
architectural features are Portuguese.

All traces of the Portuguese rule are fast disappearing, and each new
revolution adds a little more to their destruction. Three walls of the
huge old cathedral still stand, a window or two with lattice-work carving
after the fashion of the country are still left, but the interior is now
a stable for the sultan's horses, and the walls are rapidly crumbling
away.

The interior of Maskat is particularly gloomy: the bazaars are narrow and
dirty, and roofed over with palm matting; they offer but little of
interest, and if you are fond of the Arabian sweetmeat called _halwa_, it
is just as well not to watch it being made there, for niggers' feet are
usually employed to stir it, and the knowledge of this is apt to spoil
the flavour. Most of the town is now in ruins. Fifty years ago the
population must have been nearly three times greater than it is now.
There is also wanting in the town the feature which makes most Moslem
towns picturesque, namely the minaret; the mosques of the Ibadhuyah sect
being squalid and uninteresting. At first it is difficult to distinguish
them from the courtyard of an ordinary house, but by degrees the eye gets
trained to identify a mosque by the tiny substitute for a minaret
attached to each, a sort of bell-shaped cone about four feet high, which
is placed above the corner of the enclosing wall. I have already
mentioned the Ibadhuyah's views with regard to the imams. I believe they
hold also certain heterodox opinions with regard to predestination and
free will, which detach them from other Moslem communities; at any rate
they are far more tolerant than other Arabian followers of the Prophet,
and permit strangers to enter their mosques at will. Tobacco is freely
used by them, and amongst the upper classes scepticism is rife. The
devout followers of Mohammed look upon them much as Roman Catholics look
on Protestants, and their position is similar in many respects.

As elsewhere in Arabia, coffee is largely consumed in Oman, and no
business is ever transacted without it; it is always served in large,
copper coffee-pots, of the quaint shape which they use in Bahrein. Some
of these coffee-pots are very large. An important sheikh, or the mollah
of a mosque, whose guests are many, will have coffee-pots two or three
feet in height, whereas those for private use are quite tiny, but the
bird-like form of the pot is always scrupulously preserved.

The bazaars of Oman do not offer much to the curio-hunter. He may
perchance find a few of the curved Omani daggers with handsome sheaths
adorned with filigree silver, to which is usually attached, by a leather
thong, a thorn extractor, an earpick, and a spike. The belting, too, with
which these daggers are attached to the body, is very pretty and quite a
specialty of the place; formerly many gold daggers were manufactured at
Maskat and sent to Zanzibar, but of late years the demand for these has
considerably diminished.

The iron locks in the bazaars are very curious and old-fashioned, with
huge iron keys which push out the wards, and are made like the teeth of a
comb. These locks are exceedingly cumbersome, and seem to me to be a
development of the wooden locks with wooden wards found in the interior
of Arabia. Some of them are over a foot long. I have seen a householder
after trying to hammer the key in with a stone, at last in despair climb
over his own garden wall.

Perchance a shark-skin or wooden buckler may be picked up from a Bedou
from the mountains, and there are chances of obtaining the products of
many nationalities, for Maskat, like Aden, is one of the most
cosmopolitan cities of the East. Here, as in El Matra, you find Banyans
from India, Beluchi from the Mekran coast, negroes from Zanzibar,
Bedouin, Persians from the Gulf, and the town itself is even less Arab
than Aden.

The ex-prime minister's house, which occupies a prominent position in the
principal street, is somewhat more Oriental in character than most, and
possesses a charmingly carved, projecting window, which gladdens the eye;
and here and there in the intricacies of the town one comes across a
carved door or a carved window, but they are now few and far between.

The suburbs of Maskat are especially interesting. As soon as you issue
out of either of the two gates which are constructed in the wall,
shutting the town off from the outer world, you plunge at once into a new
and varied life.

Here is the fish and provision market, built of bamboos, picturesque, but
reeking with horrible smells and alive with flies; hard by is a stagnant
pool into which is cast all the offal and filth of this disgusting
market. The water in the pool looks quite putrid, and when the wind
comes from this quarter no wonder it is laden with fever germs and
mephitic vapours. Consequently, Maskat is a most unhealthy place,
especially when the atmosphere is damp and rain has fallen to stir up the
refuse.

The women with their mask-veils called _buttra_, not unlike the masks
worn with a domino, pleased us immensely, so that we sought to possess a
specimen. They brought us several, which, however, did not quite satisfy
us, and afterwards we learnt that an enterprising German firm had made a
lot of these _buttra_ for sale amongst the Maskat women; but the shape
being not exactly orthodox, the women will not buy them, so the owners of
these unsaleable articles are anxious to sell them cheap to any
unsuspecting traveller who may be passing through.

Outside the walls the sultan is in the habit of distributing two meals a
day to the indigent poor; and inasmuch as the Omani are by nature prone
to laziness, there is but little doubt that his highness's liberality is
greatly imposed on.

In the market outside the walls we lingered until nearly driven wild by
the flies and the stench, so we were glad enough to escape and pursue our
walk to the Paradise valley and see the favourable side of Maskat. There
the sleepy noise of the wells, the shade of the acacias and palms, and
the bright green of the lucerne fields, refreshed us, and we felt it hard
to realise that we were in arid Arabia.

As you emerge you come across a series of villages built of reeds and
palm branches, and inhabited by members of the numerous nationalities who
come to Maskat in search of a livelihood. Most of these are Beluchi from
the Mekran coast, and Africans from the neighbourhood of Zanzibar. The
general appearance of these villages is highly picturesque, but squalid.
Here and there palm-trees, almond-trees, and the ubiquitous camelthorn
are seen interspersed amongst the houses; women in red and yellow
garments, with turquoise rings in their ears and noses, peep at you
furtively from behind their flimsy doors, and as you proceed up the
valley you find several towers constructed to protect the gardens from
Bedouin incursions, and a few comfortable little villas built by Banyan
merchants, where they can retire from the heat and dust of Maskat.

The gardens are all cultivated, with irrigation, and look surprisingly
green and delicious in contrast with the barren, arid rocks which
surround them; the wells are dug deep in the centre of the valley, in the
bed of what elsewhere would be a river, and are worked by a running slope
and bullocks who draw up and down skin buckets, which, like those in
Bahrein, empty themselves automatically into tanks connected with the
channels which convey the water to the gardens.

After walking for a mile or two up this valley all traces of life and
cultivation cease, and amidst the volcanic rocks and boulders hardly a
trace of vegetable life is to be seen. It is a veritable valley of
desolation, and there are many such in waterless Arabia.

By ascending paths to the right or to the left of the valley, the
pedestrian may reach some exquisite points of view; all the little _cols_
or passes through which these paths lead are protected at the summit by
walls and forts--not strong enough, however, as recent events have shown,
to keep off the incursions of the Bedouin. The views over Maskat and the
sea are charming, but one view to the south will be for ever impressed on
my mind as one of the most striking panoramas I have ever seen. When the
summit of a little pass on the south side of the valley is reached after
a walk of about two miles, you look down through a gateway over the small
valley and fishing village of Sedad, amongst the reed houses of which are
many palm-trees and a thick palm garden belonging to Sayid Yussuf, which
gives the one thing wanting to views about Maskat, namely, a mass of
green to relieve the eye. A deep inlet of the sea runs up here with its
blue waters, and beyond stretch into illimitable space the fantastic
peaks of the Oman mountains, taking every form and shape imaginable;
these are all rich purples and blues, and the colouring of this view is
superb.

From Sedad one can take a boat and row round the headlands back to
Maskat. The promontories to the open sea are very fine: beetling cliffs
of black, red, and green volcanic rocks, and here and there stand up
rocky islets, the home of the cormorant and the bittern. In a small cove,
called Sheikh Jabar, half-way between Sedad and Maskat, and accessible
only by boat (for none but the most active of the natives can scale the
overhanging rocks), is a tiny strand which has been chosen as the
Christian burial-place. There are not very many graves in this weird
spot, and most of them are occupied by men from the gunboats which have
been stationed at Maskat. Among them is the grave of Bishop French, who
came to Maskat some years ago with the object of doing missionary work
amongst the Omani, but he fell a sacrifice to the pernicious climate
before he had been long at his post, and before he had succeeded in
making any converts.

About three miles from Maskat lies the town of El Matra, the commercial
centre of the kingdom of Oman. It would be the seat of government also
were it not exposed to the southern winds. The journey is nearly always
made by sea; it takes much longer to go by land, for a ridge of hills has
to be crossed. In a canoe it is only half an hour's paddle, and when the
weather is favourable the canoe owners drive a rattling trade. The
canoes, which they call _houris_, are hollowed out of a tree trunk,
double-prowed, and with matting at the bottom. They are not very stable
and make one think unpleasantly of sharks.

You pass the Fahl, or Stallion Rock, in the harbour, a name constantly
given by Arabs to anything large and uncanny looking, and turning sharp
round a rocky corner you see before you El Matra.

The town is governed by a _wali_ chosen by the imam, and in the bazaars
may be seen, in hopeless confusion, Banyans from India, Omani, Bedouin,
Persians and Jews. These nationalities have each their separate wards for
living in, walled off to keep them from perpetual brawls, and they only
meet one another in the bazaars, where the eye of the bazaar-master is
upon them, ready to inflict condign punishment on disturbers of the
peace, in which cases the innocent more frequently suffer than the
guilty.

The Monday's market is filled with quaint countryfolk, bringing in
baskets of fruit and wearing the upper garment of red cotton and the
large white girdle and turban.

At El Matra live most of the richest merchants, and it is the point from
which all the caravan roads into the interior start; it, too, has a
Portuguese castle, and presents a much more alluring frontage than
Maskat. In a nice-looking house by the shore dwelt Dr. Jayakar, an Indian
doctor, who had lived for twenty-five years at Maskat, combining the post
of British Vice-Consul with that of medical adviser to the few Europeans
who dwell there. He said he preferred Maskat to any other place in the
world, and hoped to end his days there; he was a great naturalist, and
his house was filled with curious animals from the interior, and marvels
from the deep. He showed us specimens of a rabbit-like animal which the
Arabs call 'whabba,' and which he affirmed is the coney of the Bible, and
of the oryx, which lives up on the Jebel Akhdar; it has two straight
horns which for one instant and from one point of view when it is
running sideways look like one, and some say the fact gave rise to the
mythical unicorn.

It is, to say the least of it, a great disadvantage to have your medical
man at El Matra when you are ill at Maskat; if the weather is stormy
boats cannot go between the two places. There is a troublesome road
across the headland by which the doctor can come, partly by water and
partly on foot, in case of dire necessity, but the caravan road, entirely
by land, goes a long way inland, and would take the medical man all day
to traverse. Behind El Matra are pleasant gardens, watered by irrigation,
which produce most of the fruit and vegetables consumed in these parts.

During our fortnight's stay at Maskat in 1895, we frequently in the
evening coolness rowed about the harbour and examined its bays and
promontories. The energetic crews of numerous gunboats of various
nationalities stationed here at different times have beguiled their time
by illuminating the bare cliffs with the names of their ships in large
letters done in white paint. French, Russian, Italian, and German names
are here to be read, but by far the largest number are in English. The
rocks at the mouth of the harbour are literally covered with delicious
oysters, and one of our entertainments was at low tide to land on these
rocks and get our boatmen to detach as many of the shellfish as we could
conveniently consume.

Such is Maskat as it exists to-day, a spot which has had a varied history
in the past, and the future of which will be equally interesting to those
who have any connection with the Persian Gulf.

[Illustration: MAP OF

HADRAMUT.

Surveyed by Imam Sharif, Khan Bahadur.

to illustrate the explorations of

M^r. J. THEODORE BENT.

_Stanford's Geog.^l Estab.^t, London_

London: Smith, Elder & Co.]



THE HADHRAMOUT



CHAPTER VI

MAKALLA


After our journeys in South Africa and Abyssinia, it was suggested to my
husband that a survey of the Hadhramout by an independent traveller would
be useful to the Government; so in the winter of 1893-94 we determined to
do our best to penetrate into this unknown district, which anciently was
the centre of the frankincense and myrrh trade, one of the most famed
commercial centres of 'Araby the Blest,' before Mohammedan fanaticism
blighted all industries and closed the peninsula to the outer world.

In the proper acceptation of the term, the Hadhramout at the present time
is not a district running along the south-east coast of Arabia between
the sea and the central desert, as is generally supposed, but it is
simply a broad valley running for 100 miles or more parallel to the
coast, by which the valleys of the high Arabian table-land discharge
their not abundant supply of water into the sea at Saihut, towards which
place this valley gradually slopes.

There is every reason to believe that anciently, too, the Hadhramout
meant only this valley; we learnt from Himyaritic inscriptions that five
centuries b.c. the name was spelt by the Himyars as it is now (namely, t
m r d h [Symbol: script]), and meant in that tongue 'the enclosure or
valley of death,' a name which in Hebrew form corresponds exactly to that
of Hazarmaveth of the tenth chapter of Genesis, and which the Greeks, in
their usual slipshod manner--occasioned by their inability, as is the
case still, to pronounce a pure _h_--converted into _Chatramitæ_, a form
which still survives in the Italian word _catrame_, or 'pitch.'

Owing to the intense fanaticism of the inhabitants, this main valley has
been reached only by one European before ourselves--namely, Herr Leo
Hirsch, in 1893. In 1846 Von Wrede made a bold attempt to reach it, but
only got as far as the collateral valley of Doan. My husband and I were
the first to attempt (in the latter part of 1893 and the early part of
1894) this journey without any disguise, and with a considerable train of
followers, and I think, for this very reason, that we went openly, we
made more impression on the natives, and were able to remain there longer
and see more, than might otherwise have been the case, and to establish
relations with the inhabitants which, I hope, will hereafter lead to very
satisfactory results.

Having arrived at Aden with letters of recommendation to the Resident
from the Indian Government and the India Office, besides private
introductions, we were amazed at all the difficulties thrown in our way.
It quite appeared as if we had left our native land to do some evil deed
to its detriment, and we were made to feel how thoroughly degrading it is
to take up the vocation of an archæologist and explorer.

Many strange and unexpected things befell us, but the most remarkable of
all was that when a certain surgeon-captain asked for leave to accompany
us, it was refused to him on the ground that 'Mr. Theodore Bent's
expedition was not sanctioned by Government,' in spite of the fact that
the Indian Government had actually placed at my husband's disposal a
surveyor, Imam Sharif, Khan Bahadur. We had no assistance beyond two very
inferior letters to the sultans of Makalla and Sheher, which made them
think we were 'people of the rank of merchants,' they afterwards said.

Imam Sharif has travelled much with Englishmen, so he speaks our language
perfectly, and having a keen sense of humour, plenty of courage and tact,
and no Mohammedan prejudices, we got on splendidly together. He was a
very agreeable member of the party. My husband paid all his expenses from
Quetta _viâ_ Bombay, with three servants, including their tents and camp
equipage, and back to Quetta.

Our party was rather a large one, for besides ourselves and our faithful
Greek servant Matthaios, who has accompanied us in so many of our
journeys, we had with us not only the Indians, but a young gardener from
Kew, William Lunt by name, as botanist, and an Egyptian named Mahmoud
Bayoumi, as naturalist, sent by Dr. Anderson, whose collections are now
in the British Museum of Natural History at South Kensington.

The former was provided with all the requisites for digging up forest
trees, and Mahmoud had with him all that was necessary for pickling and
preserving large mammals, for no one knew what might be found in the
unknown land; and many were the volunteers to join the party as hunters,
who promised to keep us in game, whereas if they had come they would only
have found reptiles.

As interpreter was recommended to us by the native political agent at
Aden, Saleh Mohammed Jaffer, Khan Bahadur--a certain Saleh Hassan. He
proved to be a fanatical Moslem, whose only object seemed to be to
terrify us and to raise enemies against us, in order to prevent our
trampling the holy land where Mohammed was born. Throughout our journey
he was a constant source of difficulty and danger.

Our starting-point for the interior was Makalla, which is 230 miles from
Aden, and is the only spot between Aden and Maskat which has any
pretensions to the name of port. The name itself means 'harbour.' It is
first mentioned by Ibn Modjawir; Hamdani calls it El Asa-Lasa, and Masudi
gives the name as Lahsa. The harbour is not available during the
south-west monsoon, and then all the boats go off to Ras Borum or the
Basalt Head.

Here we were deposited in December 1893 by a chance steamer, one which
had been chartered and on which for a consideration we were allowed to
take passage. I took turns with the captain to sleep in his cabin, but
there was nothing but the deck for the others.

Immediately behind the town rise grim, arid mountains of a reddish hue,
and the town is plastered against this rich-tinged background. By the
shore, like a lighthouse, stands the white minaret of the mosque, the
walls and pinnacles of which are covered with dense masses of sea-birds
and pigeons; the gate of this mosque, which is really nearly in the sea,
is blocked up by tanks, so that no one can enter with unwashed feet. Not
far from this rises the huge palace where the sultan dwells, reminding
one of a whitewashed mill; white, red, and brown are the dominant colours
of the town, and in the harbour the Arab dhows, with fantastic sterns,
rock to and fro in the unsteady sea, forming altogether a picturesque and
unusual scene.

Beyond the Bab Assab are huts where dwell the Bedouin who come from the
mountains. They are not allowed to sleep within the town. There is a
praying-place just outside the gate. In the middle of the town is a great
cemetery full of tamarisks, and containing the sacred tomb of the sainted
Wali Yakoub in the centre.

We were amused by a dance at a street corner to the beating of drums. It
consisted of a hot, seething mass of brown bodies writhing about and
apparently enjoying themselves.

Stone tobacco pipes are made here of a kind of limestone, very curly
silver powder-flasks, rather like nautilus shells, and curious guns
without stocks. The Bedou women wear tremendously heavy belts and very
wide brass armlets. Their faces are veiled with something like the
_yashmak_ of Egypt, but it is of plain blue calico, a little embroidered.

Makalla is ruled over by a sultan of the Al Kaiti family, whose
connection with India has made them very English in their sympathies, and
his majesty's general appearance, with his velvet coat and jewelled
daggers, is far more Indian than Arabian. Really the most influential
people in the town are the money-grubbing Parsees from Bombay, and it is
essentially one of those commercial centres where Hindustani is spoken
nearly as much as Arabian. The government of the country is now almost
entirely in the hands of the Al Kaiti family, which at present is the
most powerful family in the district, and is reputed to be the richest in
Arabia.

About five generations ago the Seyyids of the Aboubekr family, at that
time the chief Arab family at the Hadhramout, who claimed descent from
the first of the Khalifs, were at variance with the Bedou tribes, and in
their extremity they invited assistance from the chiefs of the Yafei
tribe, who inhabit the Yafei district, to the north-east of Aden. To this
request the Al Kaiti family responded by sending assistance to the
Seyyids of the Hadhramout, putting down the troublesome Bedou tribes, and
establishing a fair amount of peace and prosperity in the country, though
even to this day the Bedouin of the mountains are ever ready to swoop
down and harass the more peaceful inhabitants of the towns. At the same
time the Al Kaiti family established themselves in the Hadhramout, and
for the last four generations have been steadily adding to the power
thus acquired. Makalla, Sheher, Shibahm, Haura, Hagarein, all belong to
them, and they are continually increasing, by purchase, the area of their
influence in the collateral valleys, building substantial castles, and
establishing one of the most powerful dynasties in this much-divided
country. They get all their money from the Straits Settlements, for it
has been the custom of the Hadhrami to leave their own sterile country to
seek their fortunes abroad. The Nizam of Hyderabad has an Arab regiment
composed entirely of Hadhrami, and the Sultan Nawasjung, the present head
of the Al Kaiti family, is its general: he lives in India and governs his
Arabian possessions by deputy. His son Ghalib ruled in Sheher, his nephew
Manassar, who receives a dollar a day from England, ruled in Makalla, and
his nephew Salàh ruled in Shibahm, and the governors of the other towns
are mostly connections of this family. The power and wealth of this
family are almost the only guarantee for peace and prosperity in an
otherwise lawless country.

The white palace of the Sultan Manassar is six stories high, with little
carved windows and a pretty sort of cornice of open-work bricks, unbaked
of course, save by the sun. It stands on a little peninsula, and like
Riviera towns, has pretty coast views on either side. The sultan received
us with his two young sons, dressed up in as many fine clothes as it was
possible to put on, and attended by his vizier, Abdul Kalek; no business
was done as to our departure, but only compliments were paid on both
sides. After we had separated presents were sent by us, loaves of sugar
being an indispensable accompaniment.

The so-called palace in which we were lodged was next to the mosque and
close to the bazaar; the smells and noise were almost unendurable, so we
worked hard to get our preparations made, and to make our sojourn here
as short as possible. This 'palace' was a large building; a very dirty
staircase led to a quantity of rooms, large and small, inhabited in
rather a confusing manner, not only by our own party, but by another, and
to get at our servants we had to pick our way between the prostrate forms
of an Arabian gentleman and his attendants. We were the first arrivals,
so we collected from the various rooms as many bits of torn and rotten
old matting as we could find, to keep the dust down in our own room,
which was about 40 feet long by 30 feet wide, so very much covered with
dust that no pavement could be seen without digging. It would have been
necessary to have 'seven maids with seven brooms to sweep for half a
year' before they could have cleared that room. Windows were all round,
unglazed of course, and quite shutterless. We set out our furniture and
had plenty of room to spread the baggage round us. An enormous packing
case from Kew Gardens had little besides a great fork in it, so that case
came no farther. Another case, to which the botanist had to resort
constantly, had always to be tied up with rope, as it had neither lock
nor hinges.

We were six days at Makalla arranging about camels and safe conduct, and
wondering when we should get away; so of course we had plenty of time to
inspect the town, which on account of the many Parsees had quite an
Indian air in some parts. Sometimes one comes upon a deliciously scented
part in the bazaars where myrrh and spices, attar of roses, and rose
leaves are sold in little grimy holes almost too small to enter; but for
the part near the fish market, I can only say that awful stenches
prevail, and the part where dates and other fruits are sold is almost
impassable from flies.

For our journey inland we were entrusted by the sultan to a tribe of
Bedouin and their camels. Mokaik was the name of our Mokadam or
head-man, and his tribe rejoiced in the name of Khailiki. They were tiny
spare men, quite beardless, with very refined, gentle faces; they might
easily have been taken for women, so gentle and pretty were they. They
were naturally dark, and made darker still by dirt and indigo. Their long
shaggy hair was twisted up into a knot and bound by a long plaited
leather string like a bootlace, which was wound round the hair and then
two or three times round the head, like the fillet worn by Greek women in
ancient times. They were naked save for a loin-cloth and the girdle to
which were attached their brass powder flasks, shaped like a ram's horn,
their silver cases for flint and steel, their daggers, and their thorn
extractors, consisting of a picker and tweezers, fastened together. They
are very different from the stately Bedouin of Syria and Egypt, and are,
both as to religion and physique, distinctly an aboriginal race of
Southern Arabia, as different from the Arab as the Hindoo is from the
Anglo-Saxon.

Our ideas as to _Bedouin_ and _Bedawi_, which latter word we never heard
while we were in Southern Arabia, were that they were tall, bearded men,
not very dark in colour, and our imaginations connected them with
hospitality and much clothes. None of these characteristics are found
among the Bedouin of this district. _Bedouin_ is not a word in use, but
_Bedou_ for both singular and plural. They speak of themselves as _el
Bedou_, and when they have seen us wondering at some strange custom, they
have said apologetically, 'Ah! Bedou, Bedou!' I have heard them address a
man whose name they did not know 'Ya Bedou.' I mean to use _Bedou_ for
singular and _Bedouin_ for plural.

Besides the Bedouin we were accompanied by five soldiers,
Muofok-el-Briti, Taisir-i-Fahari, Bariki, and an old man. For the
twenty-two camels we paid 175 dollars to Hagarein, a journey, we were
told, of twenty days.

It would have been useless to have had riding camels, as one could get no
faster than the baggage and soldiers, and travelling so far daily, and up
such rocks, one had to go at foot-pace. We should have had to wait longer
at Makalla while more camels were collected, and the more camels you have
the farther they stray when food is scarce, and the more chance there is
of the annoyance of waiting for lost camels to be found, and sometimes
found too late to start that day. We need not have had twenty-two camels,
and once, later, all the baggage was sent on ten, but this was to suit
the purposes of the Bedouin.

Before proceeding further with our journey, I will here say a few words
concerning the somewhat complex body politic of this portion of Arabia,
the inhabitants of which may be divided into four distinct classes.

Firstly, there are numerous wild tribes of Bedouin scattered all over the
country, who do all the carrying trade, rear and own most of the camels,
and possess large tracts of country, chiefly on the highlands and smaller
valleys. They are very numerous and powerful, and the Arabs of the towns
are certainly afraid of them, for they can make travelling in the country
very difficult, and even blockade the towns. They never live in tents, as
do the Bedouin of Northern Arabia; the richer ones have quite large
houses, whilst the poorer ones--those in Shabwa and the Wadi Adim, for
instance--dwell in caves.

Secondly, we have the Arabs proper, a decidedly later importation into
the country than the Bedouin. They live in and cultivate the lands around
the towns; many of them carry on trade and go to India and the Straits
Settlements, and some of them are very wealthy. They also are divided
into tribes. The chief of those dwelling in the Hadhramout are the Yafei,
Kattiri, Minhali, Amri, and Tamimi. The Bedouin reside amongst them, and
they are constantly at war with one another, and the complex system of
tribal union is exceedingly difficult to grasp.

Thirdly, we have the Seyyids and Sherifs, a sort of aristocratic
hierarchy, who trace their descent from the daughter and son of the
Prophet. Their influence in the Hadhramout is enormous, and they fan the
religious superstition of the people, for to this they owe their
existence. They boast that their pedigree is purer than that of any other
Seyyid family, even than those of Mecca and Medina. Seyyids and Sherifs
are to be found in all the large towns and considerable villages, and
even the Arab sultans show them a marked respect and kiss their hands
when they enter a room. They have a distinct jurisdiction of their own,
and most disputed points of property, water rights, and so on, are
referred to their decision. They look with peculiar distrust on the
introduction of external influence into their sacred country, and are the
obstructionists of the Hadhramout, but at the same time their influence
is decidedly towards law and order in a lawless land. They never carry
arms.

Lastly, we have the slave population of the Hadhramout, all of African
origin, and the freed slaves who have married and settled in the country.
Most of the tillers of the soil, personal servants, and the soldiers of
the sultans are of this class.



CHAPTER VII

OUR DEPARTURE INTO THE INTERIOR


Never shall I forget the confusion of our start. Mokaik and ten of his
men appeared at seven in the morning of the day before in our rooms, with
all the lowest beggars of Makalla in their train, and were let loose on
our seventy packages like so many demons from Jehannam, yelling and
quarrelling with one another. First of all the luggage had to be divided
into loads for twenty-two camels, then they drew lots for these loads
with small sticks, then they drew lots for us riders, and finally we had
a stormy bargain as to the price, which was finally decided upon when the
vizier came to help us, and ratified by his exchanging daggers with
Mokaik, each dagger being presented on a flat hand. In the bazaars
bargains are struck by placing the first two fingers of one contractor on
the hand of the other. All that day they were rushing in and weighing,
and exhorting us to be ready betimes in the morning, so we were quite
ready about sunrise.

We felt worn and weary when a start was made at two o'clock, and our cup
of bitterness was full when we were deposited, bag and baggage, a few
hundred yards from the gate, and told that we must spend the night amidst
a sea of small fish drying on the shore, and surrounded on all sides by
dirty Bedou huts. These fish, which are rather larger than sardines, are
put out to dry by thousands along this coast. Men feed on them and so do
the camels; they make lamp-oil out of them; they say the fish
strengthens the camel's back, and they consider it good for camels to go
once a year to the sea. Large sacks of them are taken into the interior
as merchandise; they are mixed with small leaves like box, and carried in
palm-leaf sacks, about 3 feet wide and 1½ feet high, and the air
everywhere is redolent of their stench.

At this point we had the first of many quarrels with our camel-men; we
insisted on being taken two miles farther on, away from the smells;
nothing short of threats of returning and getting the sultan to beat them
and put them in prison enabled us to break through the conventional Arab
custom of encamping for the first night outside the city gates. However,
we succeeded in reaching Bakhrein, where white wells are placed for the
benefit of wayfarers, and there beneath the pleasant shade of the
palm-trees we halted for the remainder of the day and recovered from the
agonies of our start. Among the trees was a bungalow belonging to the
sultan where we had hoped to have been able to sleep, but it was pervaded
by such a strong smell of fish that we preferred to pitch our tents.

Between this place and Makalla all is arid waste, but near the town, by
the help of irrigation, bananas and cocoanut trees flourish in a shallow
valley called 'the Beginning of Light.' There are numerous fortresses
about Bakhrein, so the road is now quite safe for the inhabitants of
Makalla; the sultan has done a good deal to repress the Bedouin who used
to raid right into the town. He crucified many of them.

We took a couple of hours over our start next day, the Bedouin again
quarrelling over the luggage, each trying to scramble for the lightest
packages and the lightest riders. They tried to make me ride a camel and
give up my horse to my husband. As he was so tall, he could obtain
neither a horse nor a donkey, so had perforce to ride a camel.

He had been able to buy a little dark donkey for Imam Sharif and the
sultan gave me a horse, but all the rest were on camels. I thought I
should enjoy riding by the camels and talking to everyone, but my hopes
were not carried out.

The difficulty of passing the strings of camels was enormous. The country
was so very stony that if you left the narrow path it took a long time to
pick your way.

I used to start first with Imam Sharif, and then my horse, at foot-pace,
got so far ahead that the soldiers said, 'We cannot guard both you and
the camels.' I had then to pull in the horse with all my might. Sometimes
I went on with Imam Sharif, one soldier and a servant carrying the
plane-table. He used to go up some hill to survey, and I, of course, had
to climb too for safety. I had to rush down when I saw our _kafila_
coming and mount, to keep in front. If I got behind, the camels were so
terrified that they danced about and shed their loads, and I was cursed
and sworn at by their drivers.

We stopped three hours at Basra (10 miles), where there are a few houses,
water, and some cultivation, and where the camels were suddenly unloaded
without leave, and there was a great row because we moved the soldiers'
guns from the tree, the shade of which we wished to have ourselves. We
again threatened to return, but at last, as Taisir fortunately could
speak Hindustani, he could make peace, and they ended by kissing hands
and saying salaam (peace).

The sun was setting when we reached a sandy place called Tokhum (another
5 miles on), where we camped near some stagnant water. We had to wait for
the moon, to find our baggage and get out the lantern. We had travelled
over almost leafless plains save that they had little patches of
mesembryanthemum, and the inevitable balloon-shrub (_madhar_). Rising and
starting by moonlight on Christmas morning, we stopped in Wadi Ghafit
(_madhar_), a very pretty side valley, with warm water and palm-trees,
and what looked like a grassy sward near the water, but which really
consisted of a tiny kind of palm. The camel-men wanted to pass this place
and camp far away on the stones, sending skins for water, but somehow my
husband found this out after we had passed Wadi Ghafit, and managed to
carry off the camels, tied tail after tail to his own camel, so the
Bedouin had to follow unwillingly. We gave them some presents, saying it
was not an everyday occurrence, but that this was a great feast with us;
so we made friends.

The Bedouin were very unruly about the packing. We could not get our most
needful things kept handy, and they liked to pack our bread with their
fish, and the waterskins anywhere among our bedding.

Mokaik did not seem to have much authority over the various owners of the
camels, and they were always quarrelling among themselves, robbing each
other of light loads and leaving some heavy thing, that no one wished
for, lying on the ground; this often occasioned re-packing. They had for
each camel a stout pair of sticks with strong ropes attached, and having
bound a bundle of packages to each stick, two men lifted them and wound
the ropes round the sticks over a very tiny pack-saddle and a mass of
untidy rags. When we arrived they liked to simply loose the ropes from
the sticks and let the baggage clatter to the ground and lead away the
camels. As they would not be persuaded to sort the things, and as
twenty-two camels cover a good deal of space, it was like seeking the
slain on a battlefield when we had to wander about having every bundle
untied.

Three days' camel-riding up one of the short valleys which lead towards
the high table-land offered little of interest beyond arid, igneous
rocks, and burnt-up, sand-covered valleys, with distorted strata on
either side. Here and there, where warm volcanic streams rise out of the
ground, the wilderness is converted into a luxuriant garden, in which
palms, tobacco, and other green things grow. One of the scrub trees which
clothe the wilderness is called by the Arabs _rack_, and is used by them
for cleaning their teeth. It amused us to chew this as we went along: it
is slightly bitter, but cleans the teeth most effectually.

There is also a poisonous sort of cucumber, called by the Arabs
_madakdak_. They clean out the inside and fill the skin with water, which
they drink as a medicine. At Sibeh, which we reached after a very hot
ride of twelve or thirteen miles, we found water with scores of camels
lying round it, for there were two or three other _kafilas_, or caravans,
beside our own. It was dreadfully cold that night, and we could not get
at our bag of blankets.

Next we entered the narrow, tortuous valley of Howeri, which ascends
towards the highland, in which the midday heat was intense; and at our
evening halts we suffered not a little from camel-ticks, which abound in
the sand, until we learnt to avoid old camping-grounds and not to pitch
our tents in the immediate vicinity of the wells.

We encamped in a narrow, stony river-bed, between walls of rock, near a
little village called Tahiya. There is a good deal of cultivation about.
The closeness of the situation made the smell of the dried fish we
carried for the camels almost unbearable.

These sacks are stretched open in the evening and put in the middle of a
circle of camels, their masters often joining in the feast. One of the
men was attacked by fever, so he was given quinine, and his friends were
told to put him to bed and cover him well. When we went to visit him
later we found him quite contented in one of these fish sacks, his head
in one corner and his legs all doubled up and packed in; only a bare
brown back was exposed, so we had a few of the camel's rags thrown on
his back, and he was well next day.

We went on ten miles to Al Ghail, rising to an altitude of 2,000 feet
above the sea-level. This word _ghail_ begins with the Arabic _ghin_,
which is a soft sound between _r_ and _g_.

There are two villages near the head of the Wadi Howeri, where there is
actually a _ghail_--that rare phenomenon in Arabia, a rill or running
stream. Here the Bedou inhabitants cultivate the date palm, and have
green patches of lucerne and grain, very refreshing to the eye.

We had come up one of the narrowest of gorges, but with hundreds of
palm-trees around Al Ghail, the first of the two villages, which is in
the end of the Wadi Howeri. It is an uninteresting collection of stone
huts, with many pretty little fields, and maidenhair fern overhanging the
wayside. There are little enclosures with walls round them, and small
stones in them, on which they dry the dates before sending them to Aden.
The rocky river-bed itself is waterless, the _ghail_ being used up in
irrigation.

At Al Bat'ha, which is just above the tableland, we actually encamped
under a spreading tree, a wild, unedible fig called _luthba_ by the
Arabs, a nickname given to all worthless, idle individuals in these
parts. Bedou women crowded around us, closely veiled in indigo-dyed
masks, with narrow slits for their eyes, carrying their babies with them
in rude cradles resembling hencoops, with a cluster of charms hung from
the top, which has the twofold advantage of amusing the baby and keeping
off the evil eye. After much persuasion we induced one of the good ladies
to sit for her photograph, or rather to sit still while something was
being done which she did not in the least understand.

There is very good water at Al Bat'ha, and so much of the kind of herbs
that camels like that we delayed our departure till eight, shivering by
a fire and longing as ardently for the arrival of the sun as we should
for his departure. The road had been so steep and stony that the
camel-riders had all been on foot for two days. I am sure that, except
near a spring, no one dropped from the skies would dream he was in Arabia
the Happy. It is hard to think that 'the Stony' and 'the Desert' must be
worse.



CHAPTER VIII

THE AKABA


Having left these villages behind us, we climbed rapidly higher and
higher, until at an elevation of over 4,000 feet we found ourselves at
last on a broad, level table-land, stretching as far as the eye could
reach in every direction. This is no doubt the 'Maratha Mountains' of
Ptolemy, the Mons Excelsus of Pliny,[8] which shuts off the Hadhramout,
where once flourished the frankincense and the myrrh.

Words cannot express the desolate aspect of this vast table-land, Akaba
or the 'going-up,' as the Arabs call it. It is perfectly level, and
strewn with black lumps of basalt, looking as though a gigantic
coal-scuttle had been upset. Occasionally there rises up above the plain
a flat-topped mound or ridge, some 80 feet high, the last remnant of a
higher level which is now disappearing. There is no sign of habitation.
Only here and there are a few tanks, dug to collect the rain-water, if
any falls. These are protected or indicated by a pair of walls built
opposite one another, and banked up on the outer side with earth and
stones, like shooting butts. The Akaba is exclusively Bedou property, and
wherever a little herbage is to be found, there the nomads drive their
flocks and young camels.

Of the frankincense which once flourished over all this vast area, we saw
only one specimen on the highland itself, though it is still found in the
more sheltered gullies; and farther east, in the Mahri country, there is,
I understand, a considerable quantity left. We were often given lumps of
gum arabic, and myrrh is still found plentifully; it is tapped for its
odoriferous sap. It is a curious fact that the Somali come from Africa to
collect it, going from tribe to tribe of the Bedouin, and buying the
right to collect these two species, sometimes paying as much as fifty
dollars. They go round and cut the trees, and after eight days return to
collect the exuded sap.

In ancient times none but slaves collected frankincense and myrrh. This
fact, taken probably with the meaning of the name Hadhramout (the later
form of the ancient name Hazarmaveth), gave rise to the quaint Greek
legend 'that the fumes of the frankincense-trees were deadly, and the
place where they grew was called the valley or enclosure of death.'

From personal observation it would appear that the ancients held
communication with the Hadhramout almost entirely by the land
caravan-route, as there is absolutely no trace of great antiquity to be
found along the coast-line, whereas the Wadi Hadhramout itself and its
collateral branches are very rich in remains of the ancient Himyaritic
civilisation.

Though we were always looking about for monuments of antiquity, the most
ancient and lasting memorial of far past ages lay beneath our feet in
that little narrow path winding over Akaba and Wadi, and polished by the
soft feet of millions of camels that had slowly passed over it for
thousands and thousands of years.

We found the air of the table-land fresh and invigorating after the
excessive heat of the valleys below. For three days we travelled
northwards across the plateau. Our first stage was Haibel Gabrein. This
is, as it were, the culminating point of the whole district; it is 4,150
feet above the sea. From it the table-land slopes gently down to the
northward towards the main valley of the Hadhramout, and eastwards
towards the Wadi Adim. After two days more travelling we approached the
heads of the many valleys which run into the Hadhramout; the Wadis Doan,
Rakhi, Al Aisa, Al Ain, Bin Ali, and Adim all start from this elevated
plateau and run nearly parallel. The curious feature of most of these
valleys is the rapid descent into them; they look as if they had been
taken out of the high plateau like slices out of a cake. They do not
appear to have been formed by a fall of water from this plateau; in fact,
it is impossible that a sufficient force of water could ever have existed
on this flat surface to form this elaborate valley system. In the valleys
themselves there is very little slope, for we found that, with the
exception of the Wadi Adim, all the valley heads we visited were nearly
of uniform height with the main valley, and had a wall of rock
approaching 1,000 feet in height, eaten away as it were out of the
plateau. We were, therefore, led to suppose that these valleys had
originally been formed by the action of the sea, and that the Hadhramout
had once been a large bay or arm of the sea, which, as the waters of the
ocean receded, leaving successive marks of many strands on the limestone
and sandstone rocks which enclosed them, formed an outlet for the scanty
water-supply of the Southern Arabian highlands. These valleys have, in
the course of ages, been silted up by sand to a considerable height,
below which water is always found, and the only means of obtaining water
in the Hadhramout for drinking purposes, as well as for cultivation, is
by sinking wells. The water of the main valley is strongly impregnated
with salt, but is much sweeter at the sides of the valley than in the
centre. No doubt this is caused by the weight of the alkaline deposits
washed down from the salt hills at Shabwa, at the head of the main
valley.

The steep, reddish sandstone cliffs which form the walls of these valleys
are themselves almost always divided into three distinct stories or
stratifications, which can be distinctly seen on the photographs. The
upper one is very abrupt, the second slightly projecting and more broken,
and the third formed by deposit from above. The descent into the valley
is extremely difficult at all points. Paths down which camels can just
make their way have been constructed by the Bedouin, by making use of the
stratified formation and the gentler slopes; but only in the case of the
Wadi Adim, of all the valleys we visited, is there anything approaching a
gradual descent.

It appears to me highly probable that the systematic destruction of the
frankincense and myrrh trees through countless generations has done much
to alter the character of this Akaba, and has contributed to the gradual
silting up of the Hadhramout and its collateral valleys, to which fact I
shall again have occasion to refer. The aspect of this plateau forcibly
recalled to our minds that portion of Abyssinia which we visited in
1892-93; there is the same arid coast-line between the sea and the
mountains, and the same rapid ascent to a similar absolutely level
plateau, and the same draining northwards to a large river-bed in the
case of Abyssinia, into the valleys of the Mareb and other tributaries of
the Nile, and in the case of this Arabian plateau into the Hadhramout.
Only Abyssinia has a more copious rainfall, which makes its plateau more
productive.

It had not been our intention to visit the Wadi Al Aisa, but to approach
the Hadhramout by another valley called Doan, parallel and further west,
but our camel-men would not take us that way, and purposely got up a
scare that the men of Khoreba at the head of Wadi Doan were going to
attack us, and would refuse to let us pass. A convenient old woman was
found who professed to bring this news, a dodge subsequently resorted to
by another Bedou tribe which wanted to govern our progress.

The report brought to us, as from the old woman, was to this effect: A
large body of sheikhs and seyyids having started from Khoreba[9] to meet
and repel us, Mokaik's father had left home to help us. As we had now
abandoned Khoreba, Mokaik said he was anxious to hurry off to meet his
father and prevent a hostile collision. Mokaik was told _he_ could not go
as he was responsible for our safety, but that some others might go.
'No,' said Mokaik, 'they cannot be spared from the camels; we will get
two men from the village.' My husband agreed to this, but when Mokaik
proposed that my husband should at once pay these men, he told Mokaik
that he must pay them himself, as he was paid to protect us. This attempt
at extortion having failed, we passed a peaceful night and subsequently
found Mokaik's father, Suleiman Bakran, safe at home, which he had never
thought of leaving.

Our first peep down into the Wadi Al Aisa, towards which our Bedouin had
conducted us, was striking in the extreme, and as we gazed down into the
narrow valley, with its line of vegetation and its numerous villages, we
felt as if we were on the edge of another world.

The descent from the table-land to the Wadi is exactly 1,500 feet by a
difficult, but very skilfully engineered footpath. The sun's rays,
reflected from the limestone cliffs, were scorchingly hot. The camels
went a longer way round, nearer the head of the valley, but, so difficult
was our short cut that they arrived before us, and the horse, and the
donkey.

Having humbly descended into the Wadi Al Aisa, because we were not
allowed to go by the Wadi Doan, we found ourselves encamped hard by the
village of Khaila, the head-quarters of the Khailiki tribe, within a
stone's throw of Mokaik's father's house and under the shadow of the
castle of his uncle, the sheikh of the tribe. These worthies both
extorted from us substantial sums of money and sold us food at exorbitant
prices, and so we soon learnt why we were not permitted to go to Khoreba,
and why the old woman and her story had been produced.

We thought Mokaik and his men little better than naked savages when on
the plateau, but when we were introduced to their relatives, and when we
saw their castles and their palm groves and their long line of gardens in
the narrow valley, our preconceived notions of the wild homeless Bedou
and his poverty underwent considerable change.

We climbed up the side of the valley opposite Khaila to photograph a
castle adorned with horns, but were driven away; too late, for the
picture had been taken.

During the two days we encamped at Khaila we were gazed upon
uninterruptedly by a relentless crowd of men, women, and children. It
amused us at first to see the women, here for the most part unmasked,
with their exceedingly heavy girdles of brass, their anklets of brass
half a foot deep, their bracelets of brass, their iron nose rings, and
their massive and numerous earrings which tore down the lobe of the ear
with their weight. Every Bedou, male or female, has a ring or charm of
cornelian set in base silver, and agates and small tusks also set in
silver.

The root with which the women paint themselves yellow is called _shubab_.
It is dried and powdered. It only grows when there is rain. The whole of
the poultry at Khaila was carried about in the arms of the women and
children who owned them, all the time of our sojourn, in the hopes of
selling them. They, at least, were glad of our departure.

Not far from Khaila, we saw a fine village which we were told was
inhabited by Arabs of pure blood, so we sent a polite message to the
seyyid, or head-man of the place, to ask if we might pay him our
respects. His reply was to the effect that if we paid thirty dollars we
might come and pass four hours in the town. Needless to say we declined
the invitation with thanks, and on the morrow when we marched down the
Wadi Al Aisa we gave the abode of this hospitable seyyid a wide berth,
particularly as the soldiers told us it was not safe, for the Arabs meant
to kill us.

Leaving Khaila, where we remained two nights and saw the New Year in, we
passed a good many towered villages: Larsmeh was one, Hadouf another,
also Subak and others. We passed the mouth of the Wadi Doan, which runs
parallel to Wadi Al Aisa, and has two branches, only the largest having
the name Doan. The mouth is about three miles below Khaila; five miles
more brought us to Sief, where we halted for a night. It is also
inhabited by pure Arabs, who treated us with excessive rudeness. It is a
very picturesque spot, perched on a rock, with towers and turrets
constructed of sun-dried brick; only here, as elsewhere in these valleys,
the houses being so exactly the same colour as the rocks behind them,
they lose their effect. The rich have evidently recognised this
difficulty and whitewash their houses, but in the poorer villages there
is no whitewash, and consequently nothing to make them stand out from
their surroundings.

One can pretty well judge of the wealth of the owners of the various
towers and castles by the amount of whitewash. Some have only the
pinnacles white, and some can afford to trim up the windows and put bands
round the building.

At Sief several men came once or twice and begged my husband to let me go
out that the women might see me, but when I went out they would not allow
me to approach or hold any intercourse with the Arab women, using
opprobrious epithets when I tried to make friendly overtures, with the
quaint result that whenever I advanced towards a group of gazing females
they fled precipitately like a flock of sheep before a collie dog, so we
discovered that it was the men themselves who wished to see me. These
women wear their dresses high in front (showing their yellow-painted legs
above the knee) and long behind; they are of deep blue cotton, decorated
with fine embroidery, and patches of yellow and red sewn on in patterns.
It is the universal female dress in the Hadhramout, and looks as if the
fashion had not changed since the days when Hazarmaveth the Patriarch
settled in this valley and gave it his name.[10] The tall tapering straw
hat worn by these women when in the fields contributes with the mask to
make the Hadhrami females as externally repulsive as the most jealous of
husbands could desire.

I am pretty sure that this must be the very same dress which made such an
unfavourable impression upon Sir John Maundeville, when he saw 'the foul
women who live near Babylon the great.' He says: 'They are vilely
arrayed. They go barefoot and clothed in evil garments, large and wide,
but short to the knees, long sleeves down to the feet like a monk's
frock, and their sleeves are hanging about their shoulders.'

The dress is certainly wide, for the two pieces of which it is composed,
exactly like the Greek peplos, when the arms are extended, stretch from
finger-tip to finger-tip, so when this dress is caught into the loose
girdle far below the waist, it hangs out under the arms and gives a very
round-backed look, as is the case with the peplos.

There are a great many Arabs at Sief, a most unhealthy, diseased-looking
lot. They are of the yellow kind of Arab, with Jewish-looking faces.

Saleh retired into Sief on our arrival, and we saw him no more till we
started next day. He was a very useless interpreter. He used to like to
live in the villages, saying he could not bear to live in the camp of
such unbelievers as we were, and used to bring his friends to our kitchen
and show them some little tins of Lazenby's potted meat, adorned with a
picture of a sheep, a cow, and a pig, as a proof that we lived on pork,
whereas we had none with us. He always tried to persuade the people that
he was far superior to any of us, and when places had to be made amongst
the baggage on the camels for my husband and the servants to ride, he
used to have his camel prepared and ride on, leaving some of the servants
with no seat kept on the camels for them. My husband cured him of this,
for one morning, seeing Saleh's bedding nicely arranged, he jumped on to
the camel himself and rode off, leaving Saleh an object of great
derision.

Once we got down into the valley we had to ride very close together for
safety, and I found it most tiresome making my horse, Basha, keep pace
with the camels.

The people at Sief were so disagreeable that I told Saleh to remind them
that, if our Queen wanted their country, she would have had it long
before we were born, and that they were very foolish to fear so small an
unarmed party, who had only come to pass the winter in a country warmer
than their own; at the same time, unless we had been quite confident that
our safety was well secured from behind, such a party, with a woman among
them, would never have come.

We set off early next morning for Hagarein. We passed after one hour
Kaidoun, with its own private little valley to the west, a tributary of
the main one, which in this part is called Wadi Kasr. There is the grave
of a celebrated saint, and a very pious seyyid, called Al Habid Taha Ali
al Hadad, abides near it. He never goes out of his house, but is so much
revered that many thousands of dollars are sent him from India and other
parts, and when his son visited Aden he was received with great honour by
the merchants there. Then we passed several other villages, including
Allahaddi and Namerr. It was at the _ziaret_ or pilgrimage to the grave
in Kaidoun that Herr von Wrede, who was disguised, was discovered to be a
Christian and forced to turn back.

The town of Hagarein or Hajarein is the principal one in the collateral
valleys, and is built on a lofty isolated rock in the middle of the Wadi
Kasr, about twenty miles before it joins the main valley of the
Hadhramout. With its towers and turrets it recalled to our minds as we
saw it in the distance certain hill-set, mediæval villages of Germany and
Italy. Here a vice-sultan governs on behalf of the Al Kaiti family, an
ill-conditioned, extortionate individual, whose bad reception of us
contributed to his subsequent removal from office. Internally Hagarein is
squalid and dirty in the extreme; each street is but a cesspool for the
houses on either side of it, and the house allotted to us produced
specimens of most smells and most insects. The days of rest we proposed
for ourselves here were spent in fighting with our old camel-men who left
us here, in fighting with the new ones who were to take us on to the main
valley, and in indignantly refusing to pay the sultan the sum of money
which our presence in his town led him to think it his right to demand.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 8: Pliny, xii. 14, 52: 'In medio Arabiae fere sunt Adramitae
pagus Saboraeum in monte excelso.']

[Footnote 9: The town of Khoreba, in the Wadi Doan, may represent the
town of Doan itself mentioned by Hamdani, the Thabanê of Ptolemy, which
Pliny calls Toani. The name Khoreba signifies ruins.]

[Footnote 10: Gen. x. 26.]



CHAPTER IX

THROUGH WADI KASR


When we reached the foot of the hill on which Hagarein stands we
dismounted; there was tremendous work to get out the sword of the oldest
soldier; he had used it so much as a walking-stick that it was firmly
fixed in the scabbard. The scabbards are generally covered with white
calico. A very steep, winding, slippery road led us to the gate, where
soldiers received us and conducted us to a courtyard, letting off guns
the while. There stood the Sultan Abdul M'Barrek Hamout al Kaiti, a very
fat, evil-looking man, pitted by smallpox. After shaking hands he led us
down the tortuous streets to his palace, and then took us up a narrow mud
staircase, so dark that we did not know whether to turn to the right or
left; we sometimes went one way and sometimes the other. At length we
reached a small room with some goat-hair carpets and we and the sultan,
the soldiers (his and ours), the Bedouin and my groom, M'barrek, all
seated ourselves round the wall, and after a long time a dirty glass of
water was handed round as our only entertainment. As we had had nothing
to eat since sunrise, and it was about two o'clock, we did not feel
cheerful when the sultan abruptly rose and said he must pray. Praying and
sleeping are always the excuses when they want to get rid of guests or
say 'not at home,' and indeed the sleeping excuse prevails in Greece
also.

Some time after, our four chairs were brought, so we sat till near four
o'clock homeless, and getting hungrier and hungrier, when the sultan
reappeared, telling my husband all our things were locked up in a
courtyard and giving him a great wooden key. We hastened to our home, up
a long dark stair, past many floors, all used as stalls and stables, &c.,
only the two top floors being devoted to human habitation. Each floor
consisted of one fair-sized room and one very tiny den, a kitchen. The
whole Indian party had the lower room, and three of our soldiers the den.
I cannot think how they could all lie down at once, and they had to cook
there besides. Above that, we had the best room, the botanist and
naturalist the den, and Matthaios made his abode on the roof, where he
cooked. The Bedouin, having unloaded the camels in the courtyard across
the street, refused to help us, and, as no one else could be got, my
husband and all his merry men had to carry up the baggage, while I
wrestled with the beds and other furniture in our earthy room. The
instant the baggage was up the Bedouin clamoured for payment, and it was
trying work opening the various packages where the bags of money were
scattered, and to begin quarrelling when we were so weary and hungry. We
had been told that our journey to Hagarein would take twenty days,
whereas it only took thirteen, and that we must take two camels for
water, which had proved unnecessary; besides the camels had been much
loaded with fish and other goods belonging to the Bedouin. My husband
said he would pay for the twenty days and they would thus have thirty
dollars as _bakshish_. But, in the end, the soldiers from Makalla said we
must pay _bakshish_: it would be an insult to their sultan if we did not
and they would go no further with us. The local sultan also insisting,
fourteen more dollars had to be produced. Our own soldiers soon came
shouting and saying they must have half a rupee a day for food, which my
husband thought it wise to give, though the _wazir_ at Makalla had said
he was to give nothing.

They were hardly gone when the sultan came back personally conducting two
kids and saying we need think of no further expense; we were his guests
and were to ask for what we wished. All my husband asked for was daily
milk. We got some that day, but never again. My groom, M'barrek, then
came, saying he must have food money; that being settled, he returned
saying the sultan said he must have half a rupee a day for my horse,
which became very thin on the starvation he got.

All this time we could get no water, so not till dark could Matthaios
furnish us with tea, cold meat, bread, and honey.

We were fortunate in having plenty of bread. We had six big sacks of
large cakes of plain bread dried hard, and of this we had learnt the
value by experience. We kept it sheltered, if there was any fear of rain,
as in Abyssinia, for instance, and before a meal soaked it in water,
wrapped it in a napkin a few minutes, and then dried it up to the
consistency of fresh bread. We were often obliged to give it to the
horses, for the difficulty as to forage makes them unfit to travel in
such barren places.

We also took charcoal and found that, with it and the bread, we had our
meals long before the Indian party, who had a weary search for fuel
before they could even begin with 'pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man.'
The making of _chupatties_ also causes delay in starting. As to the honey
it is most plentiful and tastes like orange flowers, but really it is the
date-flower which imparts this flavour. It is much more glutinous than
ours. It is packed, for exportation and to bring as tribute, in large
round tin boxes, stopped up round the edges with mud. It is used in
paying both taxes and tribute.

We were quite worn out with this day. The sultan received a present next
morning of silk for a robe, a turban, some handkerchiefs, two watches,
some knives, scissors, needle-cases, and other things, but he afterwards
sent Saleh to say he did not like his present at all and wanted dollars.
He got ten rupees and was satisfied.

We again visited him with our servants and soldiers and were given tea
while we talked over the future, and all seemed fair. Later the sultan
came to visit us and talk about the escort. He said we must take five
soldiers, bargained for their wages, food, and bakshish, and obtained the
money. My husband inquired about some ruins near Meshed, three hours by
camel from Hagarein, and said that if the sultan would arrange that we
should dig safely, he should have forty dollars, and he settled to go
with my husband next day to see the place. Accordingly next day the
sultan came with eight soldiers, singing and dancing all the way, and
some men of the Nahad tribe as _siyara_, as we were then in their land.

The sultan showed us two letters in which it was said that we were to
have been attacked between Sief and Kaidoun, and we remembered having
seen a man on a camel apparently watching for us, but instead of coming
forward he galloped away; and thus it appears we got past the place from
which they meant to set upon us, before the attacking party could arrive.

During the days we were at Hagarein several weddings were celebrated. To
form a suitable place for conviviality they cover over a yard with mats,
just as the Abyssinians do, and the women, to show their hilarity on the
occasion, utter the same gurgling noises as the Abyssinian women do on a
like occasion, and which in Abyssinia is called _ulultà_. From our roof
we watched the bridegroom's nocturnal procession to his bride's house,
accompanied by his friends bearing torches, and singing and speechifying
to their hearts' content.

On our return from the ruins near Meshed, Taisir (our soldier) came to us
and was very indignant about the price the sultan charged for his
soldiers. He was given ten rupees to attach himself to us, as an earnest
of the good bakshish he would get at the coast, as he said all the other
soldiers would go back from Shibahm, and really in that case I think he
would have been glad of our escort.

Then Saleh, who had 100 rupees a month and ate with everyone, came to
demand half a rupee a day for food; this was granted, as we thought it
could come off his bakshish, and he soon appeared to make the same
request for Mahmoud, the naturalist. Matthaios was furious, as Mahmoud
ate partly with him, and no one was angrier with him than Saleh. It was
settled that we should give him tea, bread, and four annas, and they all
went off bawling. Afterwards we heard Saleh had said, 'Mr. Bent is giving
so much money to the sultan, why should we not have some?'

We really thought at first that we should be able to encamp at Meshed and
dig, for there was a seyyid who had been in Hyderabad and was very civil
to us, but this happiness only lasted one hour. The sultan said it would
really not be safe unless we lived in Hagarein, so we had to give it up
as it was an impossibility to dig in the heat of the day, with six hours'
journey to fatigue us; besides we must have paid many soldiers and we
were told no one would dig for us. So much was said about the dangers of
the onward road that Saleh was sent with the letters for Shibahm and
Sheher and told to hold them tight, and say that if we could not deliver
these in person we should return to the wali of Aden and say that the
sultan of Hagarein would not let us go on. This frightened him, so he
made a very dear bargain for fifteen camels, and we were to leave next
day.

We were glad enough to depart from Hagarein, which is so picturesque that
it really might be an old, mediæval, fortified town on the Rhine, built
entirely of mud and with no water in its river. All the houses are
enormously high, and have a kitchen and oven on each floor. The bricks of
which they are built are about one foot square and with straw in them.
They have shooting holes from every room and machicolations over the
outer doors and along the battlements, and what makes the houses seem to
contain even more stories than they do, is that each floor has two ranges
of windows, one on the ground so that you can only see out if you sit on
the floor, and another too high to see out of at all; below every lower
window projects a long wooden spout. The narrow lanes are mere drains,
and the whole place a hotbed of disease; the people looked very
unhealthy: when cholera comes they die like flies. As a wind up to this
last evening Mahmoud came into our room and soon began to say his
prayers; we could not make out why, but it turned out he had no light in
his room.

Altogether we had not a reposeful time in Hagarein. We were told early
next day that fourteen men of the Nahad tribe had come as our _siyara_,
though we had been told two would be sufficient; so we had to agree to
take four. Then we were asked to pay those who had come unbidden. The
sultan came himself about it, and his children came to beg for annas. At
last the sultan, who had often said he felt as if he were our brother,
obtained twelve rupees which he asked for to pay his expenses for the
kids and honey, and said my horse had eaten the worth of twice as much
money as he had asked before.

When we finally got off we found the old rascal had only sent half the
Nahadi and had only sent two soldiers, and so had really made forty
dollars out of us over that one item. The Nahad men had ten dollars
each. They are not under the sultan of Makalla, but independent. The
Nahad tribe occupy about ten miles of the valley through which we passed,
and the toll-money we paid to this tribe for the privilege of passing by
was the most exorbitant demanded from us on our journey. When once you
have paid the toll-money (_siyar_), and have with you the escort
(_siyara_) of the tribe in whose territory you are, you are practically
safe wherever you may travel in Arabia, but this did not prevent us from
being grossly insulted as we passed by certain Nahad villages. Kaidoun,
where dwells the very holy man so celebrated all the country round for
his miracles and good works, is the chief centre of this tribe. We had
purposely avoided passing too near this town, and afterwards learnt that
it was owing to the influence of this very holy seyyid that our reception
was so bad amongst the Nahad tribe.

All about Hagarein are many traces of the olden days when the
frankincense trade flourished, and when the town of Doan, which name is
still retained in the Wadi Doan, was a great emporium for this trade.
Acres and acres of ruins, dating from the centuries immediately before
our era, lie stretched along the valley here, just showing their heads
above the weight of superincumbent sand which has invaded and overwhelmed
the past glories of this district. The ruins of certain lofty square
buildings stand upon hillocks at isolated intervals; from these we got
several inscriptions, which prove that they were the high 'platforms'
alluded to on so many Himyaritic inscribed stones as raised in honour of
their dead. As for the town around them, it has been entirely engulfed in
sand; the then dry bed of a torrent runs through the centre, and from
this fact we can ascertain, from the walls of sand on either side of the
stream, that the town itself has been buried some 30 feet or 40 feet by
this sand. It is now called Raidoun. The ground lies strewn with
fragments of Himyaritic inscriptions, pottery, and other indications of a
rich harvest for the excavator, but the hostility of the Nahad tribe
prevented us from paying these ruins more than a cursory visit, and even
to secure this we had to pay the sheikh of the place nineteen dollars,
and his greeting was ominous as he angrily muttered, 'Salaam to all who
believe Mohammed is the true prophet.'

We were warned 'that our eyes should never be let to see Meshed again;'
we might camp before we got there, or after, as we wished, so were led by
a roundabout way to Adab, and saw no more of the leprous seyyid who told
such wondrous tales about the English king who once lived in Hagarein,
and how the English, Turks, and Arabs were all descended from King Sam.
Also he told the Addite fable of how the giants and rich men tried to
make a paradise of their own, the beautiful garden of Irem, and defied
God, and so destruction came upon the tribe of Ad, the remnant of whom
survive at Aden on Jebel Shemshan, in the form of monkeys. This is the
Mohammedan legend of the end of the Sabæan Empire.

We were much amused with what Imam Sharif said to this seyyid. Imam
Sharif is himself a seyyid or sherif, a descendant of Mohammed, his
family having come from Medina, so he was always much respected. He said
to him: 'You think these English are very bad people, but the Koran says
that all people are like their rulers; now we have no spots or diseases
on our bodies, but are all clean and sound, which shows plainly that our
ruler and the rest of us must be the same. Now you, my brother, must be
under the displeasure of God, for I see that you are covered with
leprosy.' This was not a kind or civil speech, I fear, but not a ruder
one than those addressed to us. This leprosy shows itself by an
appearance as if patches of white skin were neatly set into the dark
skin.

At Adab they would not allow us to dip our vessels in their well, nor
take our repast under the shadow of their mosque: even the women of this
village ventured to insult us, peeping into our tent at night, and
tumbling over the jugs in a manner most aggravating to the weary
occupants. The soldiers had abandoned us and gone to sleep in the
village.

A dreary waste of sand led past Kerren to Badorah. I arrived first with
Imam Sharif, a servant, and a soldier. We dismounted, as there was some
surveying to be done. The people were quite friendly, we thought, though
they crowded round me shouting to see the 'woman.' I went to some women
grouped at a little distance, and we had no trouble as long as we were
there. We had left before the camels came and heard that the rest of the
party had been very badly received, stones were thrown, and shouts raised
of 'Pigs! Infidels! Dogs! Come down from your camels and we will cut your
throats.' We attributed this to Saleh Hassan, for he made enemies for us
wherever we went. At this village they were busy making indigo dye in
large jars like those of the forty thieves. We were soon out of the Nahad
country.

Our troubles on the score of rudeness were happily terminated at Haura,
where a huge castle, belonging to the Al Kaiti family, dominates a humble
village, surrounded by palm groves. Without photographs to bear out my
statement, I should hardly dare to describe the magnificence of these
castles in the Hadhramout. That at Haura is seven stories high, and
covers fully an acre of ground beneath the beetling cliff, with
battlements, towers, and machicolations bearing a striking likeness to
Holyrood; but Holyrood is built of stone, and Haura, save for the first
story, is built of sun-dried bricks, and if Haura stood where Holyrood
does, or in a rainy climate, it would long ago have crumbled away.

Haura is supposed to be the site of an ancient Himyaritic town. We were
told that the sultan of Hagarein is not entirely under Makalla, but that
he of Haura is.

The castle of the sultan is nice and clean inside, and it was pleasant,
after some very reviving cups of coffee and ginger, and some very public
conversation, to find our canvas homes all erected on a hard field--a
pleasant change from our late dusty places. Mahmoud obtained a fox, which
was his first mammal, saving a bushy-tailed rat. We were sent a lamb and
a box of honey, and soon after the governor arrived to request a present.
He asked thirty rupees but got twenty, and the new soldiers in place of
the Nahadi men were to have five rupees on arrival at Koton. We were now
nearing the palace of Sultan Salàh-bin-Mohammad al Kaiti of Shibahm, the
most powerful monarch in the Hadhramout, who has spent twelve years of
his life in India, and whose reception of us was going to be magnificent,
our escort told us.

As we were leaving Haura, just standing about waiting to mount, I felt
something hard in one finger of my glove which I was putting on. I
thought it was a dry leaf and hooked it down with my nail and shook it
into my hand. Imagine my terror on lifting my glove at seeing a scorpion
wriggling there. I dropped it quickly, shouting for Mahmoud and the
collecting-bottle, and then caught it in a handkerchief. This was the way
that _Buthia Bentii_ introduced himself to the scientific world, for he
was of a new species. It turned out that the 'oldest soldier' was father
to the sultan of Haura. He went no farther with us.

The next day, three miles after leaving Haura, we quitted the Wadi Kasr
and at last, at the village of Alimani, entered the main valley of the
Hadhramout. It is here very broad, being at least eight miles from cliff
to cliff, and receives collateral valleys from all sides, forming, as it
were, a great basin. Hitherto our way had been generally northward, from
Makalla to Tokhum, north-east, and then north-west; now we turned
westward down the great valley, though still with a slight northward
tendency.

We passed Ghanima, Ajlania on a rock to the right, and Henan and the Wadi
Menwab behind it on our left. Wellsted, in his list of the Hadhramout
towns, mentions Henan as Ainan, and as a very ancient town, on the hill
near which are inscriptions and rude sculptures.

For seven hours we travelled along the valley, which from its width was
like a plain till we were within a mile of the castle of Al Koton, where
the sultan of Shibahm resides. Thus far all was desert and sand, but
suddenly the valley narrows, and a long vista of cultivation was spread
before us. Here miles of the valley are covered with palm groves. Bright
green patches of lucerne called _kadhlb_, almost dazzling to look upon
after the arid waste, and numerous other kinds of grain are raised by
irrigation, for the Hadhramout has beneath its expanse of sand a river
running, the waters of which are obtained by digging deep wells. Skin
buckets are let down by ropes and drawn up by cattle by means of a steep
slope, and then the water is distributed for cultivation through narrow
channels; it is at best a fierce struggle with nature to produce these
crops, for the rainfall can never be depended upon. We had intended to
push on to Al Koton, but Sultan Salàh sent a messenger to beg us not to
arrive till the following morning, that his preparations to receive us
might be suitable to our dignity, as the first English travellers to
visit his domains. So we encamped just on the edge of the cultivation,
about a mile off, at Ferhud, where under the shade of palm-trees there is
a beautiful well of brackish water, with four oxen, two at each side to
draw up the water.

Outside the cultivation in its arid waste of sand the Hadhramout produces
but little; now and again we came across groups of the camelthorn, tall
trees somewhat resembling the holm oak. It is in Arabic a most
complicated tree. Its fruit, like a small crab apple, is called _b'dom_,
very refreshing, and making an excellent preserve; its leaves, which they
powder and use as soap, are called _ghasl_, meaning 'washing'; whereas
the tree itself is called _ailb_, and is dearly loved by the camels, who
stretch their long necks to feed off its branches.

We wondered what kind of reception we should have, for people's ideas on
this point vary greatly. In order not to offend the sultan's prejudices
too much, we determined to dissemble, and I decided not to wear my little
camera, and Imam Sharif packed the plane-table out of sight. We settled
that he should have the medicine chest in his charge and be the doctor of
the party, and addressed him as Hakim. Even Saleh feared so much what the
future might hold in store, that he removed his drawers and shoes, and
advised Imam Sharif to do the same, as Mohammed had never worn such
things. Imam Sharif refused to take these precautions, saying that if
Mohammed had been born in Cashmere he would have assuredly worn both
drawers and shoes. Imam Sharif wore a Norfolk jacket and knickerbockers
and a turban when on the march, but in camp he wore Indian clothes.
However, we were soon visited by the sultan's two wazirs on spirited Arab
steeds: magnificent individuals with plaided turbans, long lances, and
many gold mohurs fixed on their dagger handles, all of which argued well
for our reception on the morrow by the sultan of Shibahm.

We were a good deal stared at, but not disagreeably, for all the soldiers
were on their best behaviour. At Khaila and Sief we had to be tied up,
airless, in our tents, as if we left them open a minute when the crowd,
tired of seeing nothing, had dispersed, and one person saw an opening,
the whole multitude surged round again, pressing in, shouting and
smelling so bad that we regretted our folly in having tried to get a
little light and air. We saw among others a boy who had a wound in his
arm, and therefore had his nostrils plugged up; bad smells are said not
to be so injurious as good ones. Some women came and asked to see me, so
I took my chair and sat surrounded by them. They begged to see my hands,
so I took off my gloves and let them lift my hands about from one sticky
hand to another. They looked wonderingly at them and said 'Meskin' so
often and so pityingly that I am sure they thought I had leprosy all
over. Then they wished to see my head, and having taken off my hat, my
hair had to be taken down. They examined my shoes, turned up my gaiters,
stuck their fingers down my collar, and wished to undress me, so I rose
and said very civilly, 'Peace to you, oh women, I am going to sleep now,'
and retired.

Arab girls before they enter the harem and take the veil are a curious
sight to behold. Their bodies and faces are dyed a bright yellow with
turmeric; on this ground they paint black lines with antimony, over their
eyes; the fashionable colour for the nose is red; green spots adorn the
cheek, and the general aspect is grotesque beyond description.

We stayed in bed really late next morning, till the sun rose, and then
prepared ourselves to be fetched.

[Illustration: THE CASTLE OF THE SULTAN OF SHIBAHM AT AL KOTON]

The two young wazirs, Salim-bin-Ali and Salim-bin-Abdullah, cousins, came
again at 7.30 with two extra horses, which were ridden by my husband and
Saleh, as Imam Sharif stuck to the donkey which we named Mahsoud
(Happy).



CHAPTER X

OUR SOJOURN AT KOTON


Like a fairy palace of the Arabian Nights, white as a wedding cake, and
with as many battlements and pinnacles, with its windows painted red, the
colour being made from red sandstone, and its balustrades decorated with
the inevitable chevron pattern, the castle of Al Koton rears its
battlemented towers above the neighbouring brown houses and expanse of
palm groves; behind it rise the steep red rocks of the encircling
mountains, the whole forming a scene of Oriental beauty difficult to
describe in words. This lovely building, shining in the morning light
against the dark precipitous mountains, was pointed out to us as our
future abode. My horse, Basha, seemed to have come to life again and
enjoy galloping once more, for we had left the servants, camels, &c. to
follow.

As we approached _feux de joie_ announced our arrival, and at his gate
stood Sultan Salàh to greet us, clad in a long robe of canary-coloured
silk, and with a white silk turban twisted around his swarthy brow. He
was a large, stout man, negroid in type, for his mother was a slave, and
as generous as he was large, to Arab and European alike. He looked about
fifty-five or sixty, but said his age was 'forty-five or forty.' At
first, on being seated in his reception-room, we were very cautious in
speaking of our plans, as we were surrounded with all sorts and
conditions of men.

He placed at our disposal a room spread with Daghestan carpets and
cushions, furnished with two tables and three chairs, and not a mouthful
of our own food would he allow us to touch, a hospitality which had its
drawbacks, for the Arab _cuisine_ is not one suited to Western palates.

We were very glad of this hospitality at first as it would give Matthaios
a holiday, which he could devote to the washing of clothes, water being
so plentiful. I will describe one day's meals, which were invariably the
same. At eight o'clock came several cups, all containing coffee and milk,
honey, eggs, hard boiled and peeled, and a large thin leathery kind of
bread made plain with water, and another large thin kind made with _ghi_,
and like pastry.

About 2.30 came two bowls like slop-bowls, one containing bits of meat,
vegetables, eggs and spices in sauce, under about an inch of melted
_ghi_, the other a kind of soup. They were both quite different, but at
the same time very much alike, and the grease on the top kept them
furiously hot. There were little pieces of boiled lamb, and little pieces
of roast lamb; tiny balls of roast meat and also of boiled; a mound of
rice and a mound of dates; and upon requesting some water we were given
one large glassful. Identically the same meal came at 9.30, an hour when
the _bona-fide_ traveller pines to be in his bed. These things were laid
on a very dirty coloured cotton cloth, but no plates or knives, &c. were
provided.

At several odd times through the day a slave walked in and filled several
cups of tea, a few for each of us. The cups were never washed by him.

After struggling for a few days, many of the party having had recourse to
the medicine-chest, we were at length compelled humbly to crave his
majesty to allow us to employ our own cook. This he graciously permitted,
and during the three weeks we passed under his hospitable roof, our cook
was daily supplied by the 'sultanas'--most excellent housewives we
thought them--with everything we needed.

One of the most striking features of these Arabian palaces is the
wood-carving. The doors are exquisitely decorated with it, the supporting
beams, and the windows, which are adorned with fretwork instead of glass.
The dwelling-rooms are above, the ground floor being exclusively used for
merchandise and as stables and cattle stalls, and the first floor for the
domestic offices. The men-servants lie about in the passages. We lived on
the second floor, the two next stories were occupied by the sultan and
his family, and above was the terraced roof where the family sleep during
the summer heat. Every guest-room has its coffee corner, provided with a
carved oven, where the grain is roasted and the water boiled; around are
hung old china dishes for spices, brass trays for the cups, and fans to
keep off the flies; also the carved censers, in which frankincense is
burnt and handed round to the guests, each one of whom fumigates his
garments with it before passing it on. It is also customary to fumigate
with frankincense a tumbler before putting water into it, a process we
did not altogether relish, as it imparts a sickly flavour to the fluid.

We found the system of door-fastening in vogue a great nuisance to us.
The wooden locks were of the 'tumbler' order. The keys were about 10
inches long, and composed of a piece of curved wood: at one end were a
number of pegs stuck in irregularly, to correspond with a number of the
tumbling bolts which they were destined to raise. No key would go in
without a tremendous lot of shaking and noisy rattling, and you always
had to have your key with you, for if you did not lock your door on
leaving your room there was nothing to prevent its swinging open; and if
you were inside you must rise and unbolt it to admit each person, and to
bolt it behind him for the same reason.

We got very friendly with Sultan Salàh during our long stay under his
roof, and he would come and sit for hours together in our room and talk
over his affairs. Little by little he was told of all our sufferings by
the way, and was very angry. We also consulted him as to our plans, and
told him how badly Saleh was behaving.

We used sometimes to think of dismissing Saleh, but thought him too
dangerous to part with. It was better to keep him under supervision, and
leave him as much in the dark as possible about our projects.

The sultan took special interest in our pursuits, conducting us in person
to archæological sites, and manifesting a laudable desire to have his
photograph taken. He assisted both our botanist and naturalist in
pursuing their investigations into the somewhat limited flora and fauna
of his dominions, and was told by Imam Sharif that his work with the
sextant was connected with keeping our watches to correct time.

He would freely discourse, too, on his own domestic affairs, giving us
anything but a pleasing picture of Arab harem life, which he described as
'a veritable hell.' Whenever he saw me reading, working with my needle,
or developing photographs, he would smile sadly, and contrast my
capabilities with those of his own wives, who, as he expressed it, 'are
unable to do anything but painting themselves and quarrelling.' Poor
Sultan Salàh has had twelve wives in his day, and he assured us that
their dissensions and backbitings had made him grow old before his time;
his looking so old must be put down to the cares of polygamy. At Al Koton
the sultan had at that time only two properly acknowledged wives, whom he
wisely kept apart; his chief wife, or 'sultana,' was sister to the sultan
of Makalla, and the sultan of Makalla is married to a daughter of Sultan
Salàh by another wife; in this way do Arabic relationships get
hopelessly confused. The influence of the wife at Al Koton was
considerable, and he was obviously in awe of her, so much so that when he
wanted to visit his other wife he had to invent a story of pressing
business at Shibahm. 'Our wives,' said he one day, 'are like servants,
and try to get all they can out of us; they have no interest in their
husband's property, as they know they may be sent away at any time.' And
in this remark he seems to have properly hit off the chief evil of
polygamy. He also told us that, having got all they can from one husband,
they go off to a man that is richer, though how they make these
arrangements, if they stick to their veils, is a mystery to me.

Then again, he would continually lament over the fanaticism and folly of
his fellow-countrymen, more especially the priestly element, who
systematically oppose all his attempts at introducing improvements from
civilised countries into the Hadhramout. The seyyids and the mollahs
dislike him; the former, who trace their descent from the daughter of
Mohammed, forming a sort of hierarchical nobility in this district; and
on several occasions he has been publicly cursed in the mosques as an
unbeliever and friend of the infidel. But Sultan Salàh has money which he
made in India, and owns property in Bombay; consequently he has the most
important weapon to wield that anyone can have in a Semitic country.

The sultan told us a famous plan they have in this country for making a
fortune. Two Hadhrami set out for India together, a father and son, or
two brothers. They collect enough money before starting to buy a very
fine suit of clothes each, and to start trade in a small way. They then
increase the business by credit, and when they have got enough of other
people's money into their hands, one departs with it to the inaccessible
Hadhramout, while the other waits to hear of his safe arrival, and then
he goes bankrupt and follows him.

Sultan Salàh had not a high opinion of his countrymen, and told us
several other tales that did not redound to their credit.

'Before I went to India I was a rascal (_harami_) like these men here,'
he constantly asseverated, and his love for things Indian and English is
unbounded. 'If only the Indian Government would send me a Mohammedan
doctor here, I would pay his expenses, and his influence, both political
and social, would be most beneficial to this country.' It is certainly a
great thing for England to have so firm a friend in the centre of the
narrow habitable district between Aden and Maskat, which ought by rights
to be ours, not that it is a very profitable country to possess, but in
the hands of another power it might unpleasantly affect our road to
India, and in complying with this simple request of Sultan Salàh's an
easy way is open to us for extending our influence in that direction.

Likewise from a humane point of view, this suggestion of Sultan Salàh's
is of great value, for the inhabitants of the Hadhramout are more
hopelessly ignorant of things medical than some of the savage tribes of
Africa. Certain quacks dwell in the towns, and profess to diagnose the
ailments of a Bedou woman by smelling one of her hairs brought by her
husband. For every pain, no matter where, they brand the patient with a
red-hot iron (_kayya_); to relieve a person who has eaten too much fat,
they will light a fire round him to melt it; to heal a wound they will
plug up the nostrils of the sufferer, believing that certain scents are
noxious to the sore; the pleasant scents being the most harmful. Iron
pounded up by a blacksmith is also a medicine.

On an open sore they tie a sheet of iron, tin, or copper with four holes
in the corners for strings. We heard of the curious case of a man who
for a wager ate all the fat of a sheep that was killed at a pilgrimage.
He lay down to sleep under a shady tree and all the fat congealed in his
inside. The doctor ordered him to drink hot tea, while fires were lit all
around him, and thus he was cured and was living in Shibahm when we were
there.

We had a crowd of patients to treat whilst stationed at Al Koton, and I
have entered quantities of quaint experiences with these poor helpless
invalids in my note-book.

We had many an interesting stroll round the sultan's gardens at Al Koton,
and watched the cultivation of spices and vegetables for the royal table,
or rather floor; the lucerne and clover for his cattle, the indigo and
henna for dyeing purposes, and the various kinds of grain. But on the
cultivation of the date-palm the most attention is lavished; it was just
then the season at which the female spathe has to be fructified by the
male pollen, and we were interested in watching a man going round with an
apron full of male spathes. With these he climbed the stem of the female
palm, and with a knife cut open the bark which encircles the female
spathe, and as he shook the male pollen over it he chanted in a low
voice, 'May God make you grow and be fruitful.' No portion of the palm is
wasted in the Hadhramout: with the leaves they thatch huts and make
fences, the date stones are ground into powder as food for cattle, and
they eat the nutty part which grows at the bottom of the spathes, and
which they called _kourzan_. On a journey a man requires nothing but a
skin of dates, which will last him for days, and, when we left, Sultan
Salàh gave us three goat-skins filled with his best dates, and large tins
of delicious honey--for which the Hadhramout was celebrated as far back
as Pliny's time[11]--which he sent on camels to the coast for us, as
well as a large inscribed stone that I now have in my house.

Innumerable wells are dotted over this cultivated area, the water from
which is distributed over the fields before sunrise and after sunset. The
delicious creaking noise made by heaving up the buckets greeted us every
morning when we woke, delicious because it betokened plenty of water: and
these early morning views were truly exquisite. A bright crimson tinge
would gradually creep over the encircling mountains, making the parts in
shade of a rich purple hue, against which the feathery palm-trees and
whitewashed castles stood out in strong contrast. All the animals
belonging to the sultan are stabled within the encircling wall, and
immediately beneath the palace windows; the horses' stable is in the open
courtyard, where they are fed with rich lucerne and dates when we should
give corn. Here also reside the cows and bullocks, which are fed every
evening by women, who tie together bunches of dried grass and make it
appetising by mixing therewith a few blades of fresh lucerne; the sheep
and the goats are penned on another side, whilst the cocks and hens live
in and around the main drain. All is truly patriarchal in character.

The sultan only possesses four horses, and one of these, a large white
mare, strangely enough came from the Cape of Good Hope, _viâ_ Durban and
Bombay. The sultan of Makalla had three. The 'Arab courser' lives farther
north.

As for the soldiers, they sent, as if it were a matter of course, for
some money to buy tobacco and were given two or three dollars each, and
we gladly parted from them friends. The sultan of Makalla had paid them
for a fortnight's food, and had written to Sultan Salàh to pay what was
owing. My groom was dismissed also without bakshish: he was only a rough
fellow taken from the mud brick works at Makalla, and my poor Basha would
have fared ill if really dependent on M'barrek for care. My entreaties
alone saved him from being publicly bastinadoed, as the sultan wished,
when he heard of all his rudeness and disobedience.

The sultan was most anxious to arrange for our onward journey, and wrote
seven letters to different sheikhs and sultans, and sent them to us to
read, but we could not read them ourselves, and would not let Saleh, so
we were none the wiser. The sultans of Siwoun and Terim are brothers, of
the Kattiri tribe, but have no real authority outside their towns. We
were anxious to proceed along the Hadhramout valley and to reach the tomb
of the prophet Houd. The sultan also went to Shibahm to meet some of the
arbiters of our fate, and the sultan of Siwoun agreed to let us pass: but
others said we had five hundred camels loaded with arms, and all sorts of
other fables, and they all quarrelled dreadfully about us, so the sultan
returned to Al Koton to await replies to his letters.

The day the sultan was absent, the women were determined to have a little
enjoyment from our presence themselves, so a great many servants came
bringing the sultan's ten-year-old daughter Sheikha, a rather pretty
little girl, with long earrings all round her ears, which, like all the
other women's, hang forward like fringed bells. An uneven number is
always worn, and a good set consists of twenty-three. They are rings
about two inches in diameter, with long drops attached. Her face was
painted with large dots, stripes, and patterns of various colours, and
she had thick antimony round the eyes. Her neck, arms, and shoulders were
yellow, and her hands painted plain black inside and in a pattern like a
lace mitten on the back, the nails being red with henna.

I was also asked to pay a visit to the ladies. I went upstairs. Every
floor is like a flat, with its bath-room containing a huge vase called
_kazbah_, and the bath is taken by pouring over the person, from a
smaller utensil, water which runs away down drain-holes to the wooden
spouts. I found myself in some very narrow passages, among a quantity of
not over-clean women, who all seized me by the shoulders, passing me on
from one to the other till I reached a very large carpeted room, with
pillows round it, some very large looking-glasses and a chandelier.

I advanced across the room amid loud exclamations from the seated ladies,
and was pointed out a position in front of the two principal ones, who
were seated against the wall--one was the chief wife of the sultan, and
the other a daughter married to a seyyid, whose hand his father-in-law
must always kiss. He is a very disagreeable-looking man, who was much
offended because Imam Sharif would neither kiss his hand, being a seyyid
himself, nor let his own be kissed. I squatted down, and round me soon
squatted many more ladies--they were certainly not beautiful, but one,
who was nearest to me and seemed to be my guardian or showman, had a very
nice, kind, clever face. Her lips were not so large as most.

We seemed all to be presided over, as we literally were, by a kind of
confidential maid, who sat on the little raised hearth in the corner,
amongst all the implements for the making of coffee and burning of
incense, chanting constantly: 'Salek alleh Mohammed' and something more,
of which I can only remember that it was about the faith. Sometimes she
was quiet a little, and then, above all the din, she raised her shout,
accompanying it with an occasional single loud blow with a stone pestle
and mortar. There was no difficulty about seeing the gold anklets the
ladies wore, for their clothes, as they sat, were well above their knees.
Their feet were painted like fanciful black slippers with lace edges.
Their examination of me was very searching, even reaching smelling point,
and I feel sure I was being exorcised, for so much was being said about
Mohammed. At last an old lady said to me, 'There is no god but God!' with
which I agreed, and murmurs of satisfaction went round, while she nodded
her head triumphantly. Later on she pointed to the ceiling, and asked if
I considered this was the direction in which Allah dwells, and seemed
glad when I agreed. Of course no infidel would, she thought.

Presently the woman who had prepared the frankincense brought it down in
a small chafing dish, continuing the same chant and handing it round. I
wondered if I should be left out, or left till the last, but neither
happened, and when my turn came, like the rest, I held my head and hands
over the fumes, and we were all fumigated inside our garments. I may have
been partaking in some unholy rite, but my ignorance will be my excuse, I
hope.

I was then told I might go, which I was glad of, as I had been afraid to
offend them by going too soon. I was asked, as I left, if I should like
to see their jewellery; of course I said 'Yes,' and had hardly got home
and recovered from the deafening row, when I was fetched again.

There were crowds more women of all classes, clean and dirty, and as they
came trooping in to see me, the room seemed to resound with the
twittering sound of their kisses, for the incoming visitor kissed the
sitter's hand, while the sitter kissed her own, and there was kissing of
foreheads besides.

Numerous little baskets were brought in with immense quantities of gold
ornaments, some very heavy, but with few gems in them--absolutely none of
value. They consisted of coral, onyx, a few bad turquoises, crooked
pearls, and many false stones. Everything was of Indian work. Sheikha
came in in a silk dress with a tremendous, much-alloyed silver girdle,
and loaded with chains and bracelets of all sorts, clanking and clashing
as she came.

We had very good coffee with ginger and cloves in it, and at this time
there was a very great deal of religious conversation and argument, and
as they were exciting themselves I thought I would go, for I did not feel
very comfortable; but the chief lady said to me, in a very threatening
and dictatorial voice:

'La illaha il Allah! Mohammed resoul Allah.' I looked as much like an
idiot as I could, and pretended neither to notice nor understand, but I
was patted and shaken up by all that were near-enough neighbours to do
so, and desired to look at that lady.

Again she said 'La illaha il Allah' in the same tone, and I was told I
must repeat it. So she said the first part again in a firm tone, and I
cheerfully repeated after her, 'There is no god but God.'

Then she continued, 'Mohammed is his prophet.' I remained dumb. Then the
name of Issa (Jesus) went round, and I bowed my head.

The coffee woman then called out, 'Issa was a prophet before Mohammed.'

They then asked me if Issa was my prophet. I could only say that He is,
for my Arabic would not allow of a further profession of my faith.

I gladly departed and gave Sheikha afterwards two sovereigns for her
necklace.

They said they would show me their clothes, but they never did. I have
described the shape of these dresses, but I omitted to say that they are
gaily trimmed with a kind of ribbon about two inches wide, made of little
square bits of coloured silks and cottons sewn together. This is put
round the armholes, over the shoulder, and down to the hem of the garment
over the seam, where a curious gusset or gore runs from the front part
to the corner of the train. The dress is trimmed round the neck, which is
cut square and rather low, and generally hangs off one shoulder, and,
across the breast it is much embroidered, beads and spangles being
sometimes introduced. These women seem to live in a perpetual noise: they
gurgled loudly when we arrived, and we could always hear them playing the
tambourine.

Tiny girls wear, as their only garment, a fringe of plaits as in Nubia,
and their heads are shaven in grotesque patterns, or their hair done in
small plaits. Boys have their heads shaven also, all except locks of long
hair dotted about in odd places. I never saw such dreadful objects as the
women make of themselves by painting their faces. When they lift their
veils one would hardly think them human. I saw eyes painted to resemble
blue and red fish, with their heads pointing to the girl's nose. The
upper part of the face was yellow, the lower green with small black
spots, a green stripe down the nose, the nostrils like two red cherries,
the paint being shiny. Three red stripes were on the forehead, and there
was a red moustache, there being also green stripes on the yellow cheeks.

There was a delightful, tiny room on the roof, just a little place to
take and make coffee in, and we were allowed to clamber up to this, but
not without calling a slave and assuring ourselves that there was no
danger of my husband meeting any of the ladies, for it commanded the
roof, to which we had not access. We liked going up there very much, for
the views were splendid, and we could see down into the mosque, which is
built like cloisters, open in the middle. I took some photographs from
there, and also, with the greatest difficulty, managed to get one of the
room itself by tying my camera, without its legs, of course, with a rope
to the outside of the fretwork frame of the little window, which was on a
level with the floor. It was hard work not to be in the way myself, as I
had to put both arms out of the next window to take out the slides, and
to guess at the focus.

The sultan, though his Hindustani was getting a trifle rusty, said he
greatly liked the company of Imam Sharif, whose uncle had in some way
befriended him in India. Intelligent conversation he had not enjoyed for
a long time. He was certainly a little scandalised at Imam Sharif's lax
ways in religion, for he was one day sitting without his turban when some
coffee was brought. The sultan put his hands up to cover Imam Sharif's
head, saying:

'My brother, you are drinking with a bare head, and this is contrary to
the Koran.' The same remark was often made in camp by people who looked
into his tent. They said, 'Look! he is a Christian, his head is bare.' At
the same time no one thought anything of the Bedouin's bare heads.

During this period of uncertainty we made several little explorations of
the surrounding valleys.

One day we started out with the sultan, who had on his long coat, which
made him look like a huge, sulphur-coloured canary. It was lined with
light blue. He, my husband, Saleh, and a groom rode the four horses; Imam
Sharif and I had our Basha and Mahsoud, and a camel most smartly
decorated carried the Wazir Salim-bin-Abdullah and a soldier; other
soldiers followed on foot. We went about five miles to Al Agran to see
some ruins perched on a rock beneath the high wall of the plateau,
prettily situated with palms, gardens, and wells. The ruins, which are
those of a well-built fortress, consist of little more than the
foundation, but all embedded in modern houses, so that excavations would
be impossible. It must once have been a place of considerable importance.
There was a scrap of very well cut ornament, which looked as if it might
have belonged to a temple. It was from Al Agran or Algran that we
obtained a stone with a spout to it, with rather a long Sabæan
inscription on it, a dedication to the god Sayan, known to have been
worshipped in the Hadhramout. We were given coffee in a very dirty room,
which we were all the time longing to tear down that we might dig under
it.

[Illustration: THE CASTLE OF THE SULTAN OF MAKALLA AT SHIBAHM]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 11: Pliny, vi. 28, § 161: 'Mellis ceraeque proventu.']



CHAPTER XI

THE WADI SER AND KABR SALEH


On January 17 we started from Al Koton with only seven of our camels and
two of the sultan's packed with forage, to be away several days. The
sultan wished to lend his horses, but my husband refused. However, he had
to ride one, a grey, for fear of giving offence, and this was given to
him as a present afterwards, and he rode it whenever the rocks allowed
till we reached the coast. We eventually sent this horse, Zubda (butter),
and my Basha back to their respective donors, though they really expected
us to take them to Aden. We had two men of the Nahad tribe as our
_siyara_.

Our start took a very long time, for the sultan, attended by many people,
came a mile on foot. We travelled four hours and a half, partly through
land that would have been cultivated had there been rain, and partly
through salt desert, till we turned north-west into the Wadi Ser, where
there is a sandy desert. From the entrance to Wadi Ser we could see
Shibahm in the distance, an unpromising looking spot among sandhills. We
were all able to find shelter at Hanya under an enormous thorny _b'dom_
tree covered with fruit, and we felt like birds out of a cage, for we
never could walk out at Al Koton without a crowd, and the greasiness and
spiciness of the food was beginning to pall. We had a delightful camp,
but had to be very careful not to drop things in the sand, as they so
quickly disappeared. We had a new man called Iselem, who was to take
care of the horses, pluck chickens, and help in pitching the camp. His
wonder at the unfolding and setting up of the beds, chairs, &c., was
great. There was also an old man called Haidar Aboul. He and one of the
soldiers could talk Hindustani, so with Imam Sharif's help we were
somewhat independent of Saleh, though we had thought it necessary to
bring him, to keep him from working us harm.

We continued our way up the Wadi Ser for about five hours and camped at
Al Had in a field near a house, close to some high banks which radiated
intense heat, and suffered the more that we had to wait a long time for
the tea that we always had with our luncheon, as our water had been
stolen in the night. We always tried to save some to carry on and start
with next day, fearing we might fare worse in the next place we came to.

The well at this spot is the last water in this direction, for we were
reaching the confines of the great central desert. Wadi Ser, being such a
waste of sand, is very sparsely populated. The Bedouin here, like the
Turkomans, live in scattered abodes, little groups of two or three houses
dotted about, and solitary homesteads. It belongs to the Kattiri tribe,
who are at war with the Yafei. They once owned Sheher and Makalla and
took Al Koton, but in a war in 1874 the Yafei were supported by the
English; hence their friendship for England. The animosity still
continues and there is little intercourse between Siwoun and Shibahm,
though only twelve miles apart. The Kattiri have more of the Bedou about
them and the Yafei have more of the Arab. Our _siyar_ was twenty-five
dollars.

The people were preparing for rain, which may never come; they had had
none for two years, but if they get it every three years they are
satisfied, as they get a sufficient crop. As it comes in torrents and
with a rush, each field is provided with a dyke and a dam, which they
cut to let the water off. This dyke is made by a big scraper, like a
dustpan, called _mis'hap_, harnessed by chains to a camel or bullocks.
The camel goes over the existing bank and when the dustpan reaches the
summit the men in attendance upset the surface sand or soil, that has
been scraped off, and carry the scraper down. When this is done the field
is lightly ploughed; there is nothing more to do except to sit and wait
for rain. We saw signs of great floods in some parts.

Whenever we found ruins still visible in or near the Hadhramout we found
them on elevated spots above the sand level, from which we may argue that
all centres of civilisation in the middle of the valleys lie deeply
buried in sand, which has come down in devastating masses from the
highland and the central desert. The nature of the sand in this district
is twofold. Firstly we have the _loess_ or firm sand, which can be
cultivated; and secondly the disintegrated desert sand, which forms
itself into heaps and causes sandstorms when the wind is high.

The mountains diminish in height the farther north one goes. The
character of the valleys is pretty much the same as that of those to the
south of the main valley, only they are narrower and much lower, and thus
the deep indenture of the valley system of the Hadhramout gradually fades
away into the vast expanse of the central desert.

The wazir had been given a bag of money to buy fowls and lambs for us,
but Saleh came and said, 'The wazir wants some money for a lamb,' so it
was sent and returned. It had not been asked for and caused some offence,
but that odious little wretch only wished to make mischief.

The Bedouin are rather clever at impromptu verses, and when we were in
Wadi Ser they made night hideous by dancing in our camp. The performers
ranged themselves in two rows, as in Sir Roger de Coverley; time is kept
by a drum and by perpetual hand-clapping and stamping of the feet, whilst
two men execute elaborate capers in the centre, singing as they do so
such words as these: 'The ship has come from Europe with merchandise;
they shot at the minaret with a thousand cannon.' Bedouin women also take
part in these dances, and the Arabs think the dances very impious; it was
very weird by the light of the moon and the camp-fire, but wearisome when
we wanted to sleep, particularly as they kept it up till after we were
all astir in the morning, yelling, bawling, singing, and screeching,
Iselem being the ringleader. The ground was shaken as if horses were
galloping about. A Bedou was playing a flute made of two leg-bones of a
crane bound together with iron.

At a distance of half an hour from our camp there is a stone with an
inscription. This was visited on the day of our arrival, but we went
again next day that I might photograph it, very difficult in the position
in which it is. It is a great rough boulder about 10 feet high, that has
slipped down from the mountain, with large rough Sabæan letters just
punched on the surface, of no depth, but having a whitish appearance. The
letters run in every direction--sometimes side by side, sometimes in
columns.

The central and most important word which my husband was able to make
out, with the help of Professor Hommels' admirable dictionary of hitherto
ascertained Himyaritic words, is _Masabam_ or Caravan road. The stone
seemed to be a kind of sign-post; for as the old Bedou sheikh who was
with us said, there was in olden days, about 500 years ago, a caravan
road this way to Mecca, before the Bahr-Safi made it impassable. The
Bahr-Safi is a quicksand, north of Shabwa, but none of those present had
been there, and they all laughed at Von Wrede's story of King Safi and
his army being engulfed in it.

The Bedou sheikh with his retinue came to see that we took no treasure
out of the stone. There are a good many old stones built into the side of
the stream-bed. Having taken a copy and a photograph, which my husband
sent later to Dr. D. H. Müller, in Vienna, to decipher, we departed. We
were told that the Wadi Ser goes four hours from that stone to the great
desert.

We then turned back and followed our _kafila_ to Alagoum, at the junction
of Wadi Ser and the Wadi Latat, about two hours' journey. Alagoum is a
large cluster of high houses, surrounded by stables and houses excavated
in the sandhills, where the inhabitants and their cattle live in hot
weather. This is quite an idea suited to the Bedouin, who live in caves,
when they can find them. The Bedouin in Southern Arabia never have tents.

We found that Saleh had joined the camel-men in resisting our own people,
who wanted to encamp under trees. They had unloaded in the open and Saleh
and Iselem had then retired into the village till the tents were pitched,
so, as we were to remain in this place two days, we had them moved. We
had by this time some of the Kattiri tribe with us as _siyara_.

At Al Garun the Wadi Ser is entered by a short collateral valley called
the Wadi Khonab, in which valley is the tomb of the prophet Saleh, one of
the principal sacred places of the district. Kabr Saleh is equally
venerated with the Kabr Houd, also called the tomb of the prophet Eber
(for, from what we could gather from the statements of intelligent
natives, Eber and Houd are synonymous terms) which is to be found in the
Tamimi country further up the main valley.

The prophet Houd was sent to reclaim the tribe of Ad. The Mahra tribe are
descended from a remnant of the Addites, as also are the Hadhrami,
according to the legends. Once a man named Kolabeh, when seeking for
camels came upon the beautiful garden of Irem-Dhatul-Imad, which is
supposed to have been in the desert near Aden; he found and brought away
a priceless jewel which came into possession of the first Ommiad Caliph
Nourrijaht. Those who embraced Islamism on the preaching of the prophet
Houd were spared, but the rest either were suffocated by a stifling wind
or survived in the form of apes, whose descendants still inhabit Jebel
Shemshan at Aden.

A remnant are also said to have fled to the Kuria Muria Islands.

We again met with considerable opposition from the Bedouin and our escort
when we proposed to visit the Kabr Saleh next day. However, this was
overcome by threats of reporting the opposition to Sultan Salàh on our
return to Al Koton. So next morning we started. The sultan of Shibahm's
people were just as anxious to go as we were, for they were delighted to
get the chance of making this pilgrimage to so holy a place, which being
in an enemies' country they could not have done but for our escort.

A short ride of two hours brought us nearly to the head of the Wadi
Khonab, and there, situated just under the cliff, in an open wilderness,
is the celebrated tomb. It consists simply of a long uncovered pile of
stones, somewhat resembling a potato-pie, with a headstone at either end,
and a collection of fossils from the neighbouring mountains arranged
along the top. Hard by is a small house where the pilgrims take their
coffee, and the house of the Bedou mollah, who looks after the tomb, is
about a quarter of a mile off. Beyond this there is no habitation in
sight. A more desolate spot could hardly be found. The tomb is from 30 to
40 feet in length, and one of the legends concerning it is that it never
is the same length, sometimes being a few feet shorter, sometimes a few
feet longer. The Bedouin have endless legends concerning this prophet.
He was a huge giant, they said, the father of the prophet Houd, or Eber;
he created camels out of the rock, and hence is especially dear to the
wandering Bedou; and he still works miracles, for if even unwittingly
anyone removes a stone from this grave, it exhibits symptoms of life, and
gives the possessor much discomfort until it is returned. Once a domed
building was erected over the tomb, but the prophet manifested his
dislike of being thus inclosed and it was removed.

Men are said to go blind if they steal anything connected with the tomb;
once a man took a cup from the coffee-house, unaware of the danger he
incurred, tied it to his girdle, and carried it off. It stuck to him till
he restored it. Another man took a stone away and gave it to his children
to play with, but it hopped about till taken back again.

At the time of the _ziara_ or pilgrimage which takes place in November,
crowds of Bedouin, we were told, come from all the valleys and hills
around to worship. All our men treated the grave with the greatest
respect, and said their prayers around it barefoot.

I do not know what they would have done to Imam Sharif if he had not
comported himself as the others did, so that wretched man had to walk
barefoot all round on the sharp stones, and thus we obtained the
measurements. He got dreadfully pricked by thorns and coveted the fossils
very much. The stones of which the tomb is composed are about the size of
cannon-balls, and look just as if newly put together and quite weedless.
People stroke the upright stone at the head and then rub their hands on
their breast and kiss them, and do the same at the foot. The wazir would
have led us up close to it; but the Bedouin hated our being there at all,
and would by no means let us sleep there, as we wished to do. We
overheard our horrid little Saleh Hassan telling the bystanders that we
live on pork.

When we first got there, we were permitted to approach within a few yards
of the tomb, so that we saw it very distinctly; but when, after eating
our luncheon, and taking a siesta under a tree, we again advanced to
inspect it, the Bedou mollah attacked us with fierce and opprobrious
language, and, fearing further to arouse the fanaticism of these wild
people, we speedily mounted our horses and rode away.

We hoped to be able to visit Kabr Houd, the tomb of Nebi Saleh's son, in
the main valley, but, as it will appear, we were to be disappointed. I am
told, on reliable Arab authority, that it is similar in every way to the
Kabr Saleh--just a long pile of stones, about 40 feet in length,
uncovered, and with its adjacent mosque. These two primitive tombs of
their legendary prophets, zealously guarded and venerated by the Bedouin,
are a peculiar and interesting feature of the Hadhramout. It is a curious
fact that when one turns to the tenth chapter of Genesis (the best record
we have of the earliest populations of our globe) we find the patriarchal
names Salah, Eber, and Hazarmaveth (which last, as I previously stated,
corresponds to Hadhramout) following one another in their order, though
not in immediate sequence. I am at a loss to account for these names
being still venerated by the Bedouin, unless one admits a continuity of
legendary history almost too wonderful to contemplate, or else one must
consider that they were heathen sites of veneration, which have, under
Moslem influence, been endowed with orthodox names. Certain it is that
these tombs in the midst of the wilderness are peculiarly the property of
the Bedouin, and, though visited, and to a certain extent venerated, by
the Arabs, the latter do not attach so much importance to them as they do
to the tombs of their own walis or saints, which are always covered
tombs, near or in the centre of the towns. Another curious point I may
mention in connection with these tombs is that the Arab historian, Yaqut,
in his 'Mu'gam,'[12] tells us of a god in the Hadhramout, called Al
Galsad, who was a gigantic man; perhaps this god may have some connection
with the giant tombs of Saleh and Eber. Also Makrisi, who wrote in the
tenth century, a.d., speaks of a giant's grave he saw near Shabwa.

Near Al Agoum we saw a quantity of very ancient stone monuments, situated
on slightly elevated ground, above the sand. At first we imagined them to
be tombs, but on closer inspection we discovered that the erections,
which are large unhewn ones of the cromlech type, are decorated inside
with geometric patterns somewhat similar to those we found in the
Mashonaland ruins, and therefore my husband was more inclined to believe
they were originally used for religious purposes. There are traces of
letters above the pattern. The buildings are about 20 feet square and
several are surrounded by circular walls. They are apparently of extreme
antiquity, and doubtless far anterior in date to any other Himyaritic
remains that we saw in the Hadhramout.

The wazir joined us as usual on our return from Kabr Saleh, as we sat
outside our tent in the moonlight with Imam Sharif and the Indian
interpreters, and we had a pleasant evening. We were perfectly charmed to
see great preparations for sleep going on among the Bedouin. We thought
they really must be tired after dancing the whole night and walking the
whole day. They were busy putting themselves to bed in graves which they
dug in the loose dust, not sand; turbans, girdles, and so forth being
turned into bedclothes. Just as they were still Iselem began capering
about and they all got up shouting and screaming, but the wazir, seeing
my distress, with the greatest difficulty quieted them, as he did when
they broke out again at three o'clock in the morning.

It took us six hours the following day to ride back to Al Koton, where,
not being expected, we could not get a meal of even bread, honey, and
dates for about an hour and a half, and then had to wait till we were
very sleepy indeed for supper. We endured great hunger that day.

Salim-bin-Ali, the other wazir, had not come with us because he was not
well. The day of our reception, in curvetting about, he fell from his
horse and had suffered various pains ever since.

The sultan had had another stone brought for us from Al Gran; we did not
care to take this away as it had very little writing on it, only [Symbol:
script] (_al amin_, to the protection). It is circular, 1 foot 4½ inches
in diameter, 2½ inches high, made of coarse marble. We saw a similar
circular stone at Raidoun.

The wildest reports were going about as to the water-stone we already
had. It was almost the cause of an insurrection against the sultan of
Shibahm. They said 'It was very wrong to give that stone to a
"gavir"'--as they call us (for all the _k_'s are pronounced _g_)--'only
think of our carelessly letting him have it. The Englishman has taken
fifteen jewels of gold and gems out of it,' and named a high value.

'You are sure of this?' said the sultan to the ringleader.

'Oh, yes! quite certain!' he said.

So the sultan led him to our room, where the stone was, and said:

'Do you know the stone again? Look closely at it. Has anything happened
to it but a washing?'

The man looked extremely small. They said my husband's only business was
to extract gold from stones. It is extraordinary how widespread this
belief is. It is firmly rooted in Greece. Many a statue and inscription
has been shivered to atoms because of it, and our interest in
inscriptions was constantly attributed to a wish to find out treasure. We
once saw two men in Asia Minor industriously boring away into a
column--to find gold they told us. They already had made a hole about 8
inches deep and 4 or 5 inches wide. They think that the ancients had a
way of softening marble with acid.

We had again at this time a great many patients; for, as we really had
effected some cures the first time we were at Al Koton, our fame had
spread. We always had Matthaios and Imam Sharif to help us to elicit the
symptoms, and also to consult with as to the cures, because some remedies
which suit Europeans were by no means suited to the circumstances of our
patients. For instance, the worst coughs I ever heard were very
prevalent, but it would be useless to ask the sick to take a hot footbath
and stay in bed. The one blue garment, which in different shapes was all
the men and women wore, was little protection from the chill of the
evening. The women's dresses were always hanging off their backs; and the
men, who had each two pieces of thick blue cotton about 2 yards long by
1½ yard wide, with fringes half a yard long, wore one as a permanent
petticoat and the other as a girdle by day and when cold as a shawl,
often put on in a very uncomfortable way--thrown on in front and left
hanging open behind--forming no protection to the back of the lungs.

The poor little baby, aged fifteen months, of the Wazir
Salim-bin-Abdullah was brought shrieking in agony, gnawing hard at its
emaciated little arms, and all covered with sores. Our hearts were wrung
at this wretched sight and we longed to help; we even thought of giving
it part of a drop of chlorodyne much diluted, but, fortunately for us,
dared not do so, for my husband said to them, 'I do not think the child
will live long.' It mercifully was released in a few hours. Then an old
man came who 'had a flame in his inside.' My husband examined him and
decided that he had an abscess, and, to please him, gave him a
dessertspoonful of borax and honey, which he swept up with his finger,
and I suppose it did relieve him, for after some minutes he said: 'The
fire is gone out.'

It grieved us sorely when poor souls came to us so hopefully and so
confident of help, with a withered arm or an empty eye-socket. Some with
less serious complaints than these last we recommended to go to Aden
hospital, a building of which we never thought at that time we should be
inmates ourselves. We found the ladies, to whom a plentiful supply of
violent pills had been administered, were better, but the sultan, who had
an attack of indigestion, had to be taken in hand at once by us doctors.
His wife required a tonic, so we got out some citrate of iron and
quinine, a bright, shiny, greenish-yellow, flaky thing, which Imam Sharif
assured us would be more beneficial and better liked if shown and admired
as gold; so after some conversation about pious frauds, I packed the
medicine up neatly and wrote in ornamental letters 'Golden Health Giver,'
and this name being explained and translated gave great satisfaction. We
were glad to be able to give the kind sultan a new bottle of
quinine--more acceptable than gold.

While we were away Mahmoud had found two little hedgehogs. One was dead
and stuffed; the other we kept alive for some time and it always liked to
creep into my clothes and go to sleep--I suppose because I never teased
it. In the little book of directions for zoological collectors we saw,
that 'little is known of the reproduction of lizards, so special
attention is to be paid,' &c. Mahmoud had brought me two little fragile
eggs to keep, about half an inch long, and I had put them in a match-box
with tow and packed them in my trunk, and on my return to Al Koton I
found two little lizards about 1¼ inch long, one alive and the other
dead. Both had to be pickled, as we did not understand how to bring so
small a lizard up by hand. They proved to be new to science, as was also
a large lizard we had found near Haura, whose peculiarity is that he has
no holes along his legs to breathe by, like other lizards. His name is
_Aporosceles Bentii_. The first lizard's egg I had I was determined
should not slip through my fingers; but alack! and well-a-day! my fingers
slipped through it.

In the meantime we were terrible bones of contention, and had the Wadi
Hadhramout all by the ears. We were very anxious indeed as to whether we
could proceed any farther or should have to go back, and whether we could
do either safely. We wanted to go right along the Wadi Hadhramout and to
see Bir Borhut or Barahout, a _solfatare_ as far as we could make out,
but Masoudi in the tenth century speaks of it as the greatest volcano in
the world, and says that it casts up immense masses of fire and that its
thundering noise can be heard miles away. On the heights near is much
brimstone, which the Bedouin find useful for gunpowder. They consider
this place is the mouth of hell and that the souls of Kafirs go there. In
Iceland there is similar accommodation for those souls. Von Wrede thinks
it was the Fons Stygis of Ptolemy, but M. de Goeje thinks that Ptolemy
alluded to some place farther west and south of Mareb. Certainly the
position given by Ptolemy does not coincide with that of Bir Borhut.

From 'Arabian Society in the Middle Ages,' by S. Lane-Poole, I take the
following notices of this place:--

El Kaswini says of Bir Borhut: 'It is a well near Hadhramout and the
Prophet (God bless and save him) said "In it are the souls of infidels
and hypocrites." It is an Addite well in a dry desert and a gloomy
valley, and it is related of Ali (may God be well pleased with him) that
he said, "The most hateful of districts to God (whose name be exalted)
is the valley of Barahout, in which is a well whose waters are black and
foetid, where the souls of infidels make their abode."'

El Asmaï has narrated of a man of Hadhramout that he said: 'We find near
Barahout an extremely disgusting and foetid smell, and then news is
brought to us of the death of a great man of the chiefs of the infidels.'

Ajaïb el Makhloukàt also relates that a man who passed a night in the
valley of Barahout said: 'I heard all night (exclamatives) of "O Roumèh!
O Roumèh!" and I mentioned this to a learned man and he told me that it
was the name of the angel commissioned to keep guard over the souls of
the infidels.'

Bir Borhut is not far from Kabr Houd, which is said by some to be even
longer and wider than Kabr Saleh. The route lies through the territory of
the Kattiri, and the Yafei are quite ignorant of it; it would be quite
unsafe for them to go to the sea along the valley, and they always use
the road over the tableland. The Kattiri tyrannise over the sultan of
Siwoun and are enemies to the sultan of Shibahm; beyond them are the
Minhali, who are also enemies; then the Amri and the Tamimi, who are
friendly, and then come the Mahri. The sultan told us that not even he
could prevent us going along the _kafila_ path, but we should not be
admitted into any villages and should probably be denied water. One
source of enmity between the Kattiri and the Yafei is, I believe, a debt
which the Kattiri owe and will not pay. The sultan of Siwoun borrowed
three lacs of rupees from the grandfather of the present sultan of
Makalla; he would not repay them, so after much squabbling the case was
referred to the English at Aden, who, after duly considering the papers,
gave Makalla and Sheher (bombarding them first) to the Yafei.

In answer to the seven letters there was nothing from the sultan of
Siwoun, and the sultan of Terim sent a verbal answer--'Do as you please,'
taking no responsibility--to which Sultan Salàh replied, 'I have sent you
a letter, send me a letter.' The sheikh of the Kattiri tribe came to Al
Koton and said he would take us, but on January 23 we heard that the
sultan of Siwoun had made a proclamation in the mosque there, forbidding
the people to admit the unbelievers to the town. Though we could easily
go by the _kafila_ road, leaving the town of Siwoun two miles on one
side, the sultan deemed it wiser for us not to attempt it, as brawls
might arise, the two tribes being at war; so we then decided to mount on
to the akaba, pass the inhospitable Siwoun and Terim, and reach the
friendly Tamimi tribe. The Kattiri _kabila_, or tribe, really came to
Siwoun to be ready for us, but the seyyids had collected a large sum of
money and bribed the sultan to send them away.

We were hoping to get off to Shibahm, but as the sultan was neither well
nor in a very good humour, we had to resign ourselves to settling down in
Al Koton in all patience. He said he must accompany us, as he could not
depend on his wazirs for they were too stupid.

My husband and I were always occupied. He used to sketch in
water-colours, and I had plenty of work developing photographs in a
delightful little dark room, where I lived and enjoyed as many skins of
water as I could use, till I had to stop and pack my celluloid negatives
like artificial flowers, for they curled up and the films contracted and
split, from the alkaline water. I had to put glycerine on them when I
reached Aden. Our botanist nearly died of dulness and impatience; Mahmoud
was quite contented to sit quite still, and I do not think the Indian
servants minded much. Poor Imam Sharif used to gaze up at half a dozen
stars from a yard, but he dared not venture on the roof to see more.

We took a stroll with the sultan one day, no crowd being allowed, and
remarked how many things were grown for spices, those spices which were
becoming rather wearisome to us. There was _zamouta_, an umbelliferous
plant, the seed of which is used in coffee, and _habat-assoba_ for
putting in bread; coriander, chili, fennel, and _helf_, a plant very like
tall cress, which is used in cookery and also raw, and which we liked as
a salad; also _attar_, a purple creeping bean, very pretty and good to
eat. There was also another low-growing bean, _brinjol_ (egg plant),
cucumber, water-melon, henna, and indigo. The sultan has besides a
private inclosure where he has some lime-trees, not our kind of lime-tree
of course, but the one which bears fruit; and I must not forget cotton,
from which the place originally took its name, as it is abundant in a
wild state.

At last another polite letter came from the Kattiri, and a letter from
the sultan of Terim. 'I have both your letters _and you can do as you
like_, my answer is the same.' This did away with all hope of progress in
that direction.

Our spirits, however, were much cheered by hearing that the sultan had
received a letter from a seyyid at Meshed (probably the nice one who had
been in India and had leprosy in his legs), telling him how very badly
the sultan of Hagarein had behaved about us. As this was spontaneous, we
hoped that the negotiation our sultan was going to undertake about our
making excavations at Meshed, Raidoun, or Kubar al Moluk (for some part
of the ruins is called Tombs of the Kings), would turn out successfully.
The sultan of Hagarein was summoned to Al Koton, but we were away before
he came. I believe in the end he was turned out of his place, former
misdeeds counting against him.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 12: II., 100.]



CHAPTER XII

THE CITY OF SHIBAHM


On January 25 we started for Shibahm, carpets having been sent forward
the day before. The sultan was to follow us in a day or two, when some
sheikhs had been to see him. We started at 8.30 and were at Shibahm in
four hours. We had eleven camels only, three horses, and the donkey. We
travelled, as soon as we left Al Koton, through sand nearly all the way.
We passed the tall white dome of Sheikh Aboubekr-bin-Hassan's tomb, near
which the ruling family are buried if the seyyids permit. They are
all-powerful, and the sultan can do nothing in this respect without
them--not even be buried in his own family tomb. There is a well beside
the tomb, or rather the kind of building from which water is obtained in
the open valleys. This consists of a small white building 8 or 9 feet
square, with a dome resting on an open pattern composed of a herring-bone
course of bricks; a little wooden ladle, 4 or 5 inches wide, stands in
one of the little openings to dip out the water, which would otherwise
evaporate. They drink out of the ladle, and fill the water-skins and the
drinking trough for animals, which stands always near. They would never
let us drink from the ladles.

As we neared Shibahm we passed through a good deal of ground that had
once been irrigated, but it had had its ups and downs, and was now
abandoned. First there had been plenty of soil and the palm-trees were
planted in it. Then the wind had denuded the roots, some of which had
been banked up and walled in with stones; others were standing on bare
roots, but at this time the sand was burying the whole place. There were
high drifts against many of the walls and among the trees.

Shibahm is twelve miles distant from Al Koton, and is one of the
principal towns in the Hadhramout valley. It is built on rising ground in
the middle of the narrowest part of the valley, so that no one can pass
between it and the cliffs of the valley out of gunshot of the walls. This
rising ground has doubtless been produced by many successions of towns
built of sun-dried bricks, for it is the best strategical point in the
neighbourhood.

Early Arab writers tell us that the Himyaritic population of this
district came here when they abandoned Shabwa, early in the Christian
era. We succeeded, however, in finding evident traces of an occupation of
earlier date than this, both in a seal, which is described further on,
and in an inscription in which the name Shibahm occurs, and which
certainly dates from the third century b.c. Even if Shibahm were not the
site of the original capital it must always, centuries before our era,
have been a place of considerable importance as the centre of the
frankincense trade, for here must have been made up the caravans which
brought the spices westward by the great frankincense road across Arabia.
The caravans take twenty-five days on the journey to Saihut, and five to
Makalla; they go also to Nejd, but we could not find out how long they
take.

Shibahm is now the property of the sultan of Makalla, but was
administered by his cousin Salàh, who received 40,000 rupees a year for
the purpose. It is now three hundred years since these Yafei left their
old home and came to settle in the Hadhramout. They were then a wild
predatory race, plundering caravans; now they have become peaceable and
rich. They still remain close friends with the Yafei farther west, but
are quite independent of them. It is the maintenance of a residence for
the Nizam of Hyderabad, and their constant communication with India, that
has doubtless made all the difference between the Yafei tribe and others.
Building seems to have been their mania. The sultan of Shibahm has
numbers of houses at Al Koton and Shibahm, and he was intending to spend
20,000 rupees in rebuilding his father's house, for the castle at Al
Koton is not his own but Government property, and the strip of land
across the valley, part of it sandy, goes with it. He was buying up land
for himself in the Wadi Al Ain and elsewhere. He told us his father left
eleven million rupees to divide among his numerous progeny.

Relationships in that family must be a trifle confused. Manassar of
Makalla had married two sisters (both now dead) of his cousin Salàh.
Salàh had married two of Manassar's sisters. A daughter of Salàh's
married Manassar, and another of them was married to one of Manassar's
sons, and Manassar's brother Hussein of Sheher married, or was married
to, a third daughter of Salàh. Apparently the same complications existed
in the generation before this, but into them it is impossible to go. As
in India, the favourite marriage that a man can make is to marry his
'uncle's daughter.' Possibly the fact that property goes from brother to
brother till a whole generation is dead, instead of from father to son,
has something to do with this arrangement.

The town of Shibahm offers a curious appearance as one approaches; above
its mud brick walls, with bastions and watch towers, appear the tall
houses of the wealthy, whitewashed only at the top, which make it look
like a large round cake with sugar on it. Outside the walls several
industries are carried on, the chief of which is the manufacture of
indigo dye. The small leaves are dried in the sun and powdered, and then
put into huge jars and filled with water. Next morning these are stirred
with long poles, producing a dark-blue frothy mixture; this is left to
settle, and then the indigo is taken from the bottom and spread out on
cloths to drain; the substance thus procured is taken home and mixed with
dates and saltpetre. Four pounds of this indigo to a gallon of water
makes the requisite and universally used dye for garments, the better
class of which are calendered by beating them with wooden hammers on
stones. This noise was a great mystery to us till we traced our way to it
and found out what it was. They used also to beat the dried leaf of a
kind of acacia called _kharrad_, and, when pounded, make of it a paste
which has a beautiful pea-green appearance; it is used for giving a
polish to leather.

[Illustration: A SABÆAN ALTAR]

Another industry carried on outside Shibahm is rope-making out of the
fibres of the fan palm (_saap_) which grows wild in the narrower valleys;
the leaves are first left to soak in water, and then beaten till the
fibres separate. Yet another is that of making lime for whitewash
kilns--it is curious to watch the Bedouin beating the lime thus produced
with long sticks, singing quaint little ditties as they thump, in
pleasant harmony to the beating of their sticks.

We entered the town by some very sloping steps, which led through the
gateway, passing some wells and the indigo dyers outside; also some
horrible pools where they had put the little fish that the camels eat, to
drain the oil from them. We entered a sort of square, having the castle
on the right-hand side and a ruined mosque in front of us. This huge
castle was built by the grandfather of the Sultan Manassar, sultan of
Makalla, but, owing to some difference about his wives, he left the two
topmost stories unfinished. No one lives in it, so we had the whole of
this immense pile of buildings to ourselves. It belongs to Manassar. It
is larger than Al Koton by far, and that is also exceeded in size by
Haura. It is a most imposing structure and much more florid than the
others. The gateway is a masterpiece of carving in intricate patterns. On
entering this you turn sharp to the right up a shallow staircase,
protected from without, but exposed to fire from the inmates of the
castle. The pillars in the lofty rooms are beautifully carved. All the
windows are filled with pretty fretwork; bolts, doors, and window frames
are also carved. The huge doors are carved on one side only, the outer
one, and inside they are rough and ill-grained and splashed with
whitewash. There are pretty dado patterns round the walls; and the
staircase, as in the other castles, has numerous doors for defence,
usually put in the middle of the flights. Shooting-holes are in every
direction. We established ourselves in a room about 30 feet by 25 feet,
and used to go up and dine in one of the unfinished rooms at the top
where there was a little bit of roof and where the cooking was done. We
generally thought it wise to dine in our grill-room, in order to have our
food hot. We all greatly enjoyed the works of our own cooks, provisions
being supplied to us.

We overlooked a huge puddle into which the surrounding houses drain, and
it is a proof of the scarcity of water in this part of Arabia, that they
carefully carry this filthy fluid away in skins to make bricks with, even
scraping up the remaining drops in the pool with their hands. In fact, it
scarcely ever rains in the Hadhramout.

From the roof of our lofty castle we had an excellent view straight down
the broad Hadhramout valley, dotted with towns, villages, palm groves,
and cultivation for fully thirty miles, embracing the two towns of Siwoun
and Terim, ruled over by the two brother sultans of the Kattiri tribe.
Close to Shibahm several collateral valleys from north and south fall
into the Hadhramout, and a glance at the map made by our chartographer,
Imam Sharif, Khan Bahadur, will at once show the importance of this
situation.

Shibahm is the frontier town of the Yafei tribe, the Kattiri occupying
the valley about two miles to the east, and these two tribes are
constantly at war. Sultan Salàh's big standard was in one of our
dwelling-rooms ready to be unfurled at a moment's notice. He has cannons
on his walls pointed in the direction of his enemy--old cannons belonging
to the East India Company, the youngest of which bore the date of 1832.
From the soldiers we obtained a specimen of the great conch shells that
they use as trumpets in battle, and which are hung to the girdle of the
watchmen, who are always on the look-out to prevent a surprise.

The Kattiri are not allowed to stay in the town at night, for we heard
that seven months before some of them were detected in an attempt to blow
up the palace with gunpowder. There was a fight also, about a quarter of
a mile outside the town, in which five Kattiri and seven Yafei were
killed. There are three or four armed soldiers to protect Shibahm, the
sultan has erected bastions and forts all about it, and the walls are
patrolled every night.

There are many ruined houses in the plain, relics of the great war forty
years ago, when the Kattiri advanced as far as Al Koton and did great
damage. The sultan of Siwoun was invited, with seven sheikhs, to the
palace of Shibahm on friendly terms and there murdered in cold blood,
while forty of his followers were killed outside.

The inhabitants of Shibahm were not at all friendly disposed to us. On
the day of our arrival my husband ventured with two of the sultan's
soldiers into the bazaar, and through the narrow streets; but only this
once, for the people crowded round him, yelled at him, and insulted him,
trying their best to trip him up and impede his progress; he was nearly
suffocated by the clouds of filthy dust that the mob kicked up, and
altogether they made his investigations so exceedingly disagreeable that
he became seriously alarmed for his safety, and never tried to penetrate
into the heart of Shibahm again. On the whole I should accredit Shibahm
with a population of certainly not less than six thousand souls: there
are thirteen mosques in it, and fully six hundred houses, tall and gaunt,
to which an average population of ten souls is but a moderate estimate.
The slave population of Shibahm is considerable; many slaves have houses
there, and wives and families of their own. The sultan's soldiers are
nearly all slaves or of slave origin, and one of them, Muoffok, whose
grandfather was a Swahili slave, and who had been one of our escort from
Makalla, took us to his house, where his wife, seated unveiled in her
coffee corner, dispensed refreshments to quite a large party there
assembled, whilst Muoffok discoursed sweet music to us on a mandoline,
and a flute made out of the two bones of an eagle placed side by side.

Taisir and Aboud were also abiding in Shibahm. Taisir when he met us, on
the minute asked for bakhshish, saying he had been ill when we parted and
had had none though we had sent it to him. Oh! there was such kissing of
hands! so we thought it politic to love our enemy and gave him a present.
The Wazir Salim-bin-Ali had travelled with us to take care of us in the
absence of his master.

Once the Arabs had a good laugh at the expense of three members of our
party. One morning our botanist went forth in quest of plants and found a
castor-oil tree, the berries of which pleased him exceedingly. Unwilling
to keep so rare a treat for himself, he brought home some branches of the
tree, and placed the delicacy before two of our servants, Matthaios and,
I am glad to say, Saleh, who also partook heartily. Terrible was the
anguish of the two victims, which was increased by the Arabs, veritable
descendants of Job's comforters, who told them they were sure to die, as
camels did which ate these berries. The botanist did not succumb as soon
as the others, who, not believing he had eaten any berries himself, vowed
vengeance on his head if they should recover, and demanded that, to prove
his innocence, he should eat twelve berries in their presence. To our
great relief the botanist was at last seized with sickness, and thereby
proved his guiltlessness of a practical joke; three more miserable men I
never saw for the space of several hours. However, they were better,
though prostrate, next day, and for some time to come the popular joke
was to imitate the noises and contortions of the sufferers during their
anguish.

In consequence of the enmity manifested towards us we were even debarred
from walking in that interesting though smelly part, just outside the
town under the walls with the well, the brick-works, the indigo, the
oil-making, the many lime-kilns, the armourers, and all the industrious
people of the town.

We used to take the air on the roof in the evening; there were no
mosquitos, but we were never so persecuted with flies. Fortunately our
castle was near the wall, for to dwell in the narrow, tortuous, dirty
streets must be fearful--most likely the dust does much to neutralise the
evils of the defective drainage. The houses are very high and narrow and
built of mud brick (_kutcha_), which is constantly though slowly
powdering away. There are many houses in ruins.

We had two or three days of slight cold. The temperature was 62° (F.) in
the shade, and it was so cloudy that we expected rain, but none came.

Saleh managed to get ten rupees from my husband, who refused any more,
though he brought a piece of cloth which he said he wished to buy from
the sultan. The money was only wanted for gambling. He went to Imam
Sharif and said, 'How is this that Mr. Bent, who at first was like my
brother, now is quite changed?' Imam Sharif said, 'If he was kind to you
when you were a stranger, and now that he knows you is different, there
must be some reason for it.' 'What have I done?' 'You know best,' said
Imam Sharif, 'and I advise you to beg pardon.' Saleh exclaimed, 'And you,
who are a Moslem, take part against me with these Christians!' This is
the keynote of his conduct to us.

We rode two hours one day, without Saleh, to a place called Kamour, on
the southern side of the valley, where there is an inscribed stone at the
mouth of a narrow slit or gorge leading to the akaba. The words thereon
were painted light red, dark red, yellow, and black, and scratched. The
decipherable words 'morning light' and 'offerings' point to this having
been a sacred stone when sun worship was prevalent. The letters are well
shaped, some letters being strange to us. The writing is _boustrephedon_,
which means that it runs backward and forward like an unbroken serpent,
each line being read in an opposite direction to that preceding or
following it. There is no difficulty in seeing this at a glance, as the
shapes of the letters are reversed; for instance, if this occurred in
English the two loops of a B would be on the left, if the writing were to
be read in that direction, [Symbol: reverse B]. The Greek name comes from
this style of writing being originally likened to cattle wandering about.
This at once relegates it, according to the best authorities, to at least
the third century before Christ, and we were forcibly reminded of the
large stone in the ruins of Zimbabwe and its similar orientation.

We heard of a cave with an inscription in it in the Kattiri country,
about six miles off, almost in sight. We longed 'to dance on Tom
Tiddler's ground' and make a dash for it, but the forfeits we might incur
deterred us, being our lives. The wazir said he would try to arrange for
this, but that, even if the seyyids consented, we must take forty
soldiers, well armed, pay them as well as _siyar_ to the Kattiri, pay the
expenses of the _siyara_, and take as short a time about the business as
possible.

On the 27th we heard that some of the tribe of Al Jabber, descended from
Mohammed's great friend of that name, had passed Shibahm for Al Koton to
fetch us, but there was no news of the Minhali or of the Tamimi.

It was said that the Jabberi could not take us over their highland, past
the Kattiri and into the Tamimi country, without consulting the Kattiri,
who sometimes help them in their wars. It must be remembered that the
Kattiri Bedouin were for us (no doubt in view of the payment of _siyar_),
while the seyyids and Arabs of that tribe at Siwoun, and their friends at
Terim, were against us.

I need not say we were weary of this indecision, so we sent a letter to
the sultan of Shibahm by a messenger saying, 'We have been here three
days; what are we to do next?' and planned that Imam Sharif should ride
over next day, as he could communicate 'mouth to mouth' with the sultan
in Hindustani.

We had one consolation in our imprisonment, for the seal of Yarsahal,
which has been mentioned before, was brought to us. The stone is in brown
and white stripes, and the setting is very pretty. It had been in the
bezel of a revolving ring. We began bargaining for it at once, my husband
offering ten rupees for the stone and ten for the golden setting, but the
seyyid who brought it said it was the property of a man in Siwoun, who
wished to keep it for his children, and he must take it back to him. My
husband said 'he should like to look at it very quietly by himself and
think over the stone,' and therefore asked the seyyid to remain outside
the door for a few minutes. I quickly utilised this quiet time to make
an impression with sealing-wax, in case we never saw the seal again. In
two hours the seyyid appeared again, and said he had had a letter from
Siwoun (twenty-four miles off), saying the (imaginary) owner would not
part with it under thirty rupees, but he very soon took twenty and
laughed most heartily when I said if I had known how near Siwoun was I
would have gone myself.

This seal is of particular interest, for on it were the words 'Yarsahal,
the Elder of Shibahm'; and in an inscription published by M. Halévy, we
have the two Yarsahals and various members of this family described as
vassals of the King of the Gebaniti. Now Pliny says that the capital of
the country was Thumna; this is quite correct and was confirmed by the
seal, for Thumna was the capital of the Gebaniti, who were a Himyaritic
tribe, west of the Hadhramout. It is therefore an additional confirmation
of the accuracy of the ancient geographers concerning this district.

In old days Shabwat, as it is called in inscriptions, or Sabbatha, Shaba,
and Sabota, as it is written in the ancient authors, was the capital of
the country. Hamdani tells us in his 'Geography of the Arabian Peninsula'
that there were salt works at Shabwa, and 'that the inhabitants, owing to
the wars between Himyar and Medhig, left Shabwa, came down into the
Hadhramout and called the place Shibahm, which was originally called
Shibat.' Times are much changed since Shabwa was a great town, for from
all accounts it is now quite deserted save for the Bedouin, and is six
days from good water; the water there is salt and bitter, like quinine,
the sultan said. The Bedouin work the salt and bring it on camels, as is
mentioned by Makrisi. The effect of salt is traceable in the water of all
the wells in the main valley. We would gladly have gone into Shabwa, but
it was obviously impossible.

There was a great deal of gun-firing when the Jabberi went by with the
sheikh of the Kattiri, and our next interest was a letter from Al Koton,
saying 'that the Tamimi, who had sworn on their heads and their eyes to
do so, had never appeared, and that the Jabberi wanted 110 dollars,
exclusive of camel hire, to go with us, the camels only to go a short
distance, and then we must change. What did we wish to do?'

Of course we could not start without providing camels for our onward way,
so this answer was sent back: 'We have not come to fight; we do not much
care when we go, and we await the advice of the sultan when he comes
to-morrow.'

Saleh was quite delighted, but we thought any direction would be good for
our map and we still had hopes of digging near Meshed, though we began to
have fears that a repulse eastward would strengthen the hands of our
enemies westward.

On January the 29th a letter was brought to us by the wazir and the
governor of the town, attended by Saleh, more pleased than ever. They
said the letter had arrived last night and it was to say that the
sultan's pain had increased, so he could not come to-day, and adding what
we already knew as to the three neighbouring tribes.

We had a council of three, and feeling that the journey to Bir Borhut was
out of the question, we determined to beat what we hoped would be a
masterly retreat, so the wazir and the governor were summoned and the
following answer was sent:

'We cannot understand the letters of the sultan, having no means of
communicating with him privately. Therefore we will return to Al Koton
to-morrow, and see him face to face.'

The servants were all quite delighted at this, for Saleh told them the
letter was to say we and the soldiers were all going to be murdered.

We had stayed five days in Shibahm, and on the first three had taken
sundry walks in the neighbourhood, but during the last two we never
ventured out, as the inhabitants manifested so unfriendly a disposition
towards us. After the Friday's prayer in the mosque, a fanatical mollah,
Al Habib Yaher-bin-Abdullah Soumait, alluded to our unwelcome presence,
and offered up the following prayer three times: 'O God! this is contrary
to our religion; remove them away!' and two days afterwards his prayer
was answered. This very gentleman had not long before been imprisoned for
praying to be delivered from the liberal-minded Sultan Salàh, but the
people had clamoured so much that he was released.

As we halted at the well outside the town, whilst the various members of
our caravan collected, we overheard a woman chide a man for drawing too
much water from the well, to which he replied, 'We have to wash our town
from the infidel this day.' Needless to say we gladly shook the dust of
Shibahm off our feet, and returned to the flesh-pots of Al Koton with
considerable satisfaction. Of a truth, religion and fanaticism are
together so deeply engrained in the Hadhrami, that anything like friendly
intercourse with the people is at present next to impossible.

Religion is the moving spirit of the place; without religion the whole
Hadhramout would have been abandoned long ago as useless, but the
inhabitants look upon it as the most sacred spot on earth, Mohammed
having been born in Arabia, and hence their objection to its being
visited by unbelievers. The Shafi sect prevails to the exclusion of all
others. The men go in crowds to India, Batavia, and elsewhere, sometimes
remaining absent twenty years from their wives and families, and indeed
we were told of one case in which a husband had been away for forty
years. They return at last to spend their gains and die in their native
sanctity.

We reached Al Koton on January 30, and found our friend the sultan very
well indeed. We had begun to suspect we were being deceived as to his
illness, for when the wazir and Saleh, who seemed in league together,
heard the seyyid son-in-law, who came straight from Al Koton soon after
the letter, telling us that the sultan was much better, they looked
disconcerted, whispered together, and the wazir said, 'You should not
talk of what you know nothing about.'

We were most anxious to learn all that had gone on in our absence, and
what arrangements had been made. It seemed to be considered a mistake our
ever having gone to Shibahm, but I do not think it was. Had we not gone
we should never have seen that fine and interesting town, and assuredly
not have obtained King Yarsahal's seal.

The sultan told us there had been a great uproar about us, and all the
Yafei tribe were now considered Kafirs. The Kattiri absolutely refused
the Jabberi leave to conduct us, and the Nahadi, through whose lands we
had passed from Hagarein, said that if they had known how the Kattiri
would treat us, they would have treated us just the same. It would be
madness to go to Shabwa, as we should, even if we could get there, be
only further hemmed in; the Wadi bin Ali was closed to us, the Nahadi
were between us and Meshed; nevertheless, the sultan had actually sent a
man to ask if we could dig there a few days, he camping with us. Our very
faint hope of this was only founded on the fact that the seyyids of
Meshed are at enmity with those of Siwoun.

On February 1, the Tamimi sent to say they had really started to fetch
us, but the Kattiri told them they would declare war on them unless they
retired.

The following evening we were thrown into some excitement by the arrival
of the sultan in our room with seven letters, the general tenor of which
was that eight of the Tamimi had come, with the _siyara_ of four Amri
only, and no _siyara_ of Kattiri, as far as Siwoun, and asked to be
passed on, but that the Kattiri refused them safe conduct; they asked the
sultan of Shibahm to go to Shibahm and arrange for them to reach us. They
proposed that we should, without touching Shibahm, turn into the very
next wadi and go up on to the akaba; the men who went with us were to
stay with us all the way to the coast. The sultan promised to keep
hostages till his returning soldiers told of our safety. We had another
council with Imam Sharif. We counted up our dollars, for we had to live
on our money-bags till we reached the sea, and determined to reach Bir
Borhut if we could, saying nothing to the servants to upset their minds
till all was settled.

The sultan went away to Shibahm the next day, and, as usual, the women
became very noisy, and during his absence we were close prisoners, on
account of our fear of being mobbed. The Indian party were generally
looked upon as Jews.

In the evening the sultan came back, telling us that the Tamimi wished to
bring 400 soldiers unpaid (?) and to take us through their country, but
the Kattiri were too strong for them. They said, 'One man came disguised
to see us (Herr von Wrede), one man came undisguised (Herr Hirsch), and
now a party has come. Next time it will be a larger one still, and then
it will be all over with the sacred valley of the Hadhramout.' Saleh,
meanwhile, was doing all he could to annoy us. When we were talking over
our difficulties with Imam Sharif, he strutted in with a bill for the
camels. My husband said:

'It is already paid.'

'I shall see about others then,' Saleh said.

'They are ordered already.'

'Your groom, Iselem, will not go with you,' said Saleh.

So I told him, 'He won't get the chance; we would not have him if we were
paid, and though we have paid him beforehand, we willingly lose our
money.'

'I must, then, speak to the sultan about him, for you.'

I said, 'The sultan has decided what he will do with him, and I don't
think he will like it.'

'Haidar Aboul will not go with you.'

This made us very angry, as we had seen that Saleh had been tampering
with him, lending him his donkey and his sandals when he walked, and
whispering with him. He tried to separate everyone from us. Haidar had
promised to go with us all the way, and later Imam Sharif brought him to
me when I was at home alone, and made him repeat his promise, and
assurance that he had never told Saleh he would not go.

Saleh also wanted money, but was refused; he got 100 rupees a month, and
200 were prepaid at Aden. He gambled, and my husband wished to keep the
contents of our money-bags for our own use. We calculated that at the
cheapest, for soldiers and _siyara_ and camels, Bir Borhut would cost
130_l._ Saleh had put all the servants in a most terrible fright, and a
soldier had told them that if we went beyond Shibahm we should all be
killed, and that we should find no water by the way. So we had to explain
to them the plan of going by Wadi bin Ali, and to comfort them as well as
we could. These people never seem to think that we value our own lives as
much as they do theirs.

Meshed was also closed against us. The sultan of Siwoun and the seyyids
had sworn on the Koran not to let us proceed on our journey; the Kattiri
had also sworn and sent messages to the Tamimi of Bir Borhut, the Jabberi
of Wadi bin Ali, and the Nahadi, and they were all against us.

We had another day of anxiety and uncertainty as to when we should really
start, as the camels were not collected till late. We watched eagerly
from our tower, counting them as they arrived by twos and threes.

We were rather in despair as as we sat dining in a yard, for at this time
we were started with our own cookery, and dined near the kitchen, which
Matthaios had been able to make in an arched recess of the inclosure,
where there were high hills of date-stones, kept to be ground to paste
for cattle-food.

He could not be allowed to defile a Mohammedan kitchen.

After a very few minutes, however, my husband had an idea, which was to
go to Sheher somehow, and turn up inland from thence; there were plenty
of Tamimi there to help us, and we could thus get to the east side of the
Kattiri. Saleh was to know nothing till all was settled.

February 7 was a very weary day of waiting; for we had mended and cleaned
everything we possessed, and we packed and hoped the camels would come,
expecting to be off on the morrow, but it was not till evening that
people, I cannot remember of what tribe, came to bargain with us, and the
bargaining continued next morning; so we made all baggage ready to be
tied into bundles, for we had no doubt we should start on the 8th at
latest.

First they said we must go by the Wadi al Ain, their own home, and this
we knew was that they might blackmail us; but they told us it was from
want of water on the high ground, over which we must travel for six days,
and that we must take two camels for water. Then they said we should take
seventeen days in all, and were to pay for twenty at more than double the
usual fare. We should have to go back on our old road as far as Adab,
then three days in the Wadi al Ain region, the same road near Haibel
Gabrein, go on to Gaffit, and thence turn eastward to Sheher.

We were perfectly horrified at this plan; the price was great, and the
sultan seemed not to think it possible to go against the Bedouin; but far
worse in our eyes was the thought of our map, as we should see no new
country, instead of taking a turn or a climb that would have added miles
to it.

They left us, and we were sitting on our floor in the deepest depths of
dark despair, when news came that these camel-men, having made a fresh
plan for more extortions, _i.e._ that there was to be no limit to the
number of camels, save their will in loading them, the sultan, being
indignant, was thinking of sending for other men.

When we heard that we roused up and concocted a new plan, which was to
send for the sultan and ask him to get the Jabberi, and make them take us
by the Wadi bin Ali; so he came and agreed to this. We were not to go so
long over the highland, but to go up and down at least twice, which would
suit us and our map. The sultan told us we should find running water, and
that it was a shorter way to Sheher.

Besides this, there lurked in the background, not to be revealed till the
last moment, a design to get the Tamimi to come to a place in Wadi Adim
and take us to Bir Borhut, a name truly terrible to Matthaios and the
Indian servants.

We were in high spirits, and agreed that no matter what our fate might be
we were having a delightful evening. Truly I think the pleasures of hope
are not sufficiently appreciated, for even if your hopes are never
realised the hoping has been a great happiness. On the 8th those
extortionate men of Wadi al Ain sent to say they would take us by the
Wadi bin Ali, turning out of Wadi Hadhramout at Al Gran, crossing the
Wadis bin Ali and Adim, and reaching Sa'ah, where we could branch off for
Bir Borhut. This offer was declined, for we were watching and waiting for
the Jabberi; and at night we heard that the brave Jabberi were at
Shibahm, whereas our messenger had been sent to Wadi bin Ali. They said
they wondered at not hearing from us, as the sultan had engaged their
camels and promised to let them know when they would be wanted. It was a
great mystery to us why the Wadi al Ain people had ever been sent for.

The Jabberi thus defied the Kattiri: 'As sure as we come from Jabberi
fathers and Jabberi mothers, we will take these people safely to Bir
Borhut; and as sure as you come from Kattiri fathers and Kattiri mothers,
you may do your worst but still we will keep them safe'; to which the
Kattiri replied: 'We do not wish to make war on you, and we do not care
where you take them so long as it is not into our country.'

As soon as we had finished our breakfast next day, a message came to say
our horses were ready, and we were to go and drink coffee at a little
tower the sultan has in the plain. Most of the party walked. There were
only horses for five; a donkey carried a water-skin, and our donkey,
Mahsoud, carried halters for every animal. There were the two wazirs, the
son-in-law, the sultan of Haura, and a good many servants with carpets
for us to sit on, and a teapot. We sat there for about two hours doing
nothing but look at the green, an occupation for which this house is
expressly built. A gun announced the arrival of the men of Al Jabber, and
the sultan sent a man to kill a goat and receive them.

Our great joy at their coming was nothing compared to our extreme
satisfaction at parting with them later on.

I cannot say much for my skill as a physiognomist, for I have it recorded
that I liked the looks of our Mokadam (that is chief of our _kafila_, or
leader) Talib-bin-Abdullah, son of the Jabberi sheikh, and that I did not
care for the looks of our new groom, Salem. I was quite wrong in both
cases. There were also Saleh-bin-Yamani and another Jabberi. We were
certainly, this time, to start next day, but with another change in our
route, I believe on account of water. Instead of going by Al Gran, we
were to go by Wadi Manwab, retracing our steps as far as Furhud.

Very early in the morning Imam Sharif came to us and told us that the
Jabberi had not sufficient camels with them and that we must take camels
of Mandob the first day or two, and that others would meet us in the Wadi
bin Ali, so there was little hope of a move that day. The Jabberi
afterwards said the Mandob way was much the longest, so we changed again.

We delayed several days longer at Al Koton, hoping against hope that the
sultan of Terim would grant us permission to pass through his
territories, that we might prosecute our journey.



CHAPTER XIII

FAREWELL TO THE SULTAN OF SHIBAHM


Our departure from Al Koton on February 12 was almost as serious an
affair as our start from Makalla. Sultan Salàh, with the instincts of
true hospitality, not only refused to receive remuneration for our
entertainment, but loaded us with presents of food for the way and fodder
for our animals, intimating that 'bakshish' to some of his dependents
would not be altogether unacceptable. With the object of receiving
rewards for their services, the grand viziers, the mounshi (a scribe),
the hall-porter, the water-carriers, the slaves who had waited on us,
were all brought in a bare-faced manner to our room; as we descended the
stairs, expectant menials lined the passages; we had to remember the
grooms, the soldiers, and the gardeners. Never again will the irksome
custom of tipping be half so appalling as when we left the palace of
Sultan Salàh.

The sultan wished to fire off seven guns at our departure, but this we
declined. He came about a mile with us, and then went to Shibahm, to send
an answer to the letter from the Tamimi, saying, 'On their eyes they
would meet us at Sa'ah.' He also determined to stay away a few days, as
he should find his house very dull when we were gone. It had been such a
great break in the monotony of his life having us, and he had so much
enjoyed the society of Imam Sharif that he was always promising him
houses, wells, lands, slaves, and wives if he would only return and
settle down in the Wadi Hadhramout.

An old and confidential relation of his was to accompany us all the way,
and the Wazir Salim-bin-Ali came as far as our first camp, two hours off,
in the Wadi Hadira. Here we could plainly see the formation of these
valleys, abrupt at the end and like a circus, not made by streams
descending, but like creeks and bays of a gigantic fiord. There is not
much cultivation in the little valley. This is the road to Sheher. There
are two approaches to the akaba, one by the Wadi Hadira and one by the
Wadi bin Ali, which is the way to Sheher. We had to enter the Wadi bin
Ali sideways by climbing over the akaba from Wadi Hadira, owing to the
opposition of the Kattiri, who hold the mouth of Wadi bin Ali. The wazir
departed in the morning with a Martini-Henry rifle which my husband sent
to the sultan. This gave rise to the report which we heard afterwards
'that we were distributing arms, of which we had five hundred
camel-loads.'

That day we had a very tiresome adventure. Starting off early before our
caravan with several Jabberi, we intended to ascend to the plateau before
the heat of midday came on. We were accompanied by a few soldiers, who it
turned out did not know the way, and having ridden for an hour and a half
up a narrow gorge with wild figs, wild date, and fan palms growing around
us, and really magnificent cliffs 700 to 800 feet high on either side of
us, reddish in colour and with fossils in the limestone strata, a truly
fearful and awe-inspiring place, we suddenly came to an abrupt
termination of our valley, having wormed ourselves along, chiefly on
foot, and found that unless Sindbad's roc came to our assistance we could
not possibly get out of it. Consequently we were regretfully obliged
retrace our steps, having spent three hours and much toil, but glad of
having had an opportunity of following one of these valleys to its
bitter end. It appeared that our supposed guides had never been there in
their lives.

We scrambled down this wadi, and into the wadi to our right; the way
truly was difficult, the valley narrowing and nearly blocked up by
perfectly perpendicular cliffs. Our caravan and servants were anxiously
awaiting us at a curious spot called Mikadèh, about a quarter of the way
up the cliff, where the road which we had missed goes through a natural
tunnel about twenty yards long, from lovely pools of rain-water preserved
in its recesses, with which we eagerly refreshed ourselves. The rest of
the ascent to the plateau was marvellously steep. The camels had to be
unloaded, and two fell down. All the baggage was carried by men, up crag
after crag, and sometimes there was no sign of a path. I never could have
imagined it possible for camels to ascend the roof-like slope of rock up
which they had to clamber for the last 50 yards, and indeed, one poor
animal did fall, and injured itself so that it had to be unloaded and
taken back, whereupon those Bedouin who did not own it heartlessly
regretted that it had not been killed, as they would have liked some of
its flesh for supper. Just at the end everything had to be unloaded
again, and the camels literally dragged up to the top, while we sat
dangling our legs over the cliff. Such yelling and shrieking I never
heard among the Bedouin, our soldiers and our servants all calling each
other rascals, and no one doing more than he could help; and inasmuch as
we had about five Salehs, four Umbarreks, and other duplicated names
amongst our men, the shouts of 'So-and-so, son of so-and-so,' made us
fully realise the clumsiness of Arab nomenclature.

When we clambered up on to the akaba it looked dreary and lifeless,
silent and lonely and stony, but it soon became lively enough, for we
were a large _kafila_, about fifty people and twenty-four camels. We had
by very good fortune a great deal of cloud that day, but also some
tremendous sun.

We sat eagerly counting the camels as they came into view, and had great
anxiety about eight of them, and were obliged to send two soldiers back
to search for them. We meant to proceed farther as water was two hours
on, and some of the first-arrived camels were reloaded; but, after all,
we felt we must wait for those eight camels, and send back to Mikadèh for
water. We could not encamp very comfortably, for the camel which had
fallen and hurt his chest had our bedding and night-clothes and Imam
Sharif's tent-poles, and besides this our kitchen-box was missing and we
had had no luncheon. So another camel was sent down to fetch those
necessaries.

It was dreadfully windy, much dust blowing, and so stony that we could
only have a peg in each corner of our tents. Rain was threatening, so the
baggage was all stacked under the outer fly of our tent. The soldiers
behaved most helpfully and the brave and bold Jabberi had not yet once
mentioned bakshish in our hearing and were most polite. They were
better-looking men than others we had seen, all tall, slight, wiry, and
very muscular, a higher type than the Khailiki and much more dressed. The
three principal ones wore turbans, red and yellow. They said they were so
very sorry for losing the way that 'none of them felt quite well when
they thought of our inconvenience.'

I could not sleep that night, so I got up and put on my dressing-gown and
sat near the door with my head out, and so was fortunately ready to slip
out when I heard a trailing picket, and found Zubda rushing up and down,
looking for water I suppose. We were so short of it that we had washed in
a very little without soap, and one horse had drunk that, and the other
the water the chickens were washed in. I caught him, but as I could not
possibly drive in the picket, I tied him to a packing case, and then had
to collect his food, which was blown all over the place, and take it
there for him.

On February 14, in consequence of the want of water, great was the hurry
to start; we were off about half-past six, and travelled till one o'clock
without stopping or getting water; the horses only had half a pint each,
that we had washed in. We should not have been so extravagant as to wash
that much if we had not wanted to let the horses drink.

The plateau here offered features that were new to us. It is as it were
in two stories. From the bottom of a wadi you reach first a slope or
talus of loose stones, then a cliff, then another slope of loose stones
and a cliff, and next comes the main akaba, and on this again a great
deal more of the upper story is left than we had hitherto seen. The upper
part is from 80 to 100 feet above the lower; sometimes it is in the form
of an isolated flat-topped hill, larger or smaller, and sometimes like a
kind of centipede, and in the gullies between the legs of these
centipedes are to be found whatever remain of frankincense trees, for
vegetation is very sparse on the akaba. Showered about everywhere are
small bits of black basalt. We had several ups and downs, and passed
wadis running in close to us before we began to descend by what must have
been a fearful road for the camels, down the two precipices and the two
flights of rolling stones, into the Wadi bin Ali. The way was far better
than that of the day before; the very Jabberi never saw such a road as
that, they said.

When we started descending we saw the village of Bazahel below us--the
Jabberi capital. It has a picturesque modern fort, built on old
Himyaritic foundations. When we reached it the soldiers fired guns, and
we were very kindly received by the inhabitants, who led us to a house
they had prepared for us. We excused ourselves from inhabiting it, saying
it was better not to have our baggage carried up, but we would gladly
rest in it.

The house seemed very clean--it was of mud of course; the walls of it and
the stairs had all been scraped into furrows and curves, and also the
dados of the staircase and room were decorated with a kind of basket
pattern, and the floors were also in a raised pattern. Carpets were
spread, water brought, and with great kindness they locked us in that we
might not be disturbed. Only our own party were in this room, the
soldiers in another. Matthaios had joined himself to the vanguard to see
what happened to us, so my husband shared his horse with him; he had been
terrified the day before at the fear that we had been carried off. The
Indian servants and the botanist joined us just as coffee with ginger and
other spices were brought. Our host had long wrestling with the lock
before he could open the door, and after this we were desired to bolt it
on the inside. We had a pleasant camp, with palm-trees to shade each
cooking fire, no starers being allowed. A woman here joined our _kafila_
for protection for a few stages. Even I never saw her face: she always
wore her mask and her hat, and looked a most ungainly object. I dare say
I looked the same to her. The sultan of Shibahm had sent a man on
horseback up that dreadful wadi to our last camp to thank us for the gun,
and to warn us by all means to keep on the highlands for fear of the
hostile Kattiri.

At Bazahel, Abdullah Mareh-bin-Talib-bin-Said, chief of the Jabberi,
welcomed us to his own house later in the day, a most unwonted piece of
hospitality. He is much stained with indigo, a very elastic and naked
sovereign, who bends his fingers back in a way horrible to behold when he
wishes to emphasise his remarks, as he did when he spoke of the Kattiri
and his wars with them, and his constantly losing men in raids, as is
also the case in his fights with the Hamoumi. As we sat around drinking
his coffee, he boasted of his direct descent from Jabber of Hiyal, the
friend and councillor of Mohammed, and told us that his family pedigree
was safely kept at Terim, with those of all the surrounding tribes of
Arabs. Somehow or other we did not care for the Jabberi at all
afterwards, and for the rest of our journey to the coast our quarrels
with Talib, the son of Abdullah, and the difficulties he would throw in
our way, were daily sources of annoyance to us.

We left Bazahel at half-past six next morning with the intention of
climbing up to the tableland again. The Wadi bin Ali is not very wide and
the ground is bare, though there are many villages scattered about. At
rather a large one, where the wadi forks, and which we reached at eight
o'clock, we were to begin our ascent. To our dismay the camels were made
to sit down and the camel-men said we must stay there the night, as there
was no water up above. We declared we knew there was, and that we would
go on; they must fill the twenty water-skins which we always carried.
Some men were inclined to go on, but were overruled by the majority.
After half an hour's contention we rode away with a good many people,
leaving a few soldiers with the baggage, to show our determination to
proceed, we being told that the others would be afraid to stay behind. We
sat down once or twice in full view of the village, to survey the camels
and wonder if they were coming, and much perplexed were we. We had
expected to change camels the following day, and this was the last day
with those men, who by delaying us wished to spin out another day's
journey at twenty-five rupees. Those soldiers who were with us
recommended us to push on round a corner, where the wadi ran in, and
conceal ourselves behind rocks, which there stood up between the path and
the village, that the camel-men might not think there was any hesitation
on our part; so men, and beasts, and I were carefully hidden, and one who
peeped without his turban, reported that some camels were rising, and
finally, eight starting.

When we reached the tableland we had to go a long way round to avoid a
good many little wadis which were all quite steep, before we reached the
water. At the edge of the tableland are some little shelters used by
hunters to shoot gazelle, which come down the gullies that to us
appeared, inaccessible. Near the water the soldiers made us climb down to
the first story of a small wadi, where we sheltered under a shelf of rock
which overhangs the whole end of it. When I was cool, I clambered up and
found a hollow or depression above our heads, with a few tufts of grass
and some shrubs, so I took down some bits of shrubs as 'samples on appro'
to the horses, and as they did approve, they were sent up to graze. We
lay on our saddle-cloths till three, pretty hungry, when the eight camels
came, and a good long time after the others arrived also the relation of
the sultan Salàh joined us on a riding camel: an old man,
Salem-bin-Mohammad by name. He said the camels had been changed, and the
money paid in advance for this day, taken from those men. We had a cold,
windy night at this place, Farash. No one had tents but our own party;
even the sultan and other gentry lie in the open on journeys. Our horses
were given a supper of dates, which are considered very strengthening,
and which they much enjoyed.

The tribe of Al Jabber possess the parallel Wadis Adim and Bin Ali, and
the road between them across the akaba is much traversed and apparently
an ancient one. We went across on the level, eight miles, and then
descended by a narrow valley leading into the Wadi Adim. The way was made
longer by its having to wind about to skirt the wadis, which cut into it
like a fringe; sometimes we were only half a mile from our former or
future track. Once we heard a gun fired, and looking across, we saw a
_kafila_ of fifty camels, a much larger one than our own, slipping behind
a hill to hide from us, and presently some men climbed up to peep.
We--that is to say my husband, Imam Sharif, and I--with the three chief
Jabberi, the Relation, and some soldiers and others, all gathered up
together and stood at gaze, without returning the gun-fire, which was
meant to find out if we had any bad intentions. Our own camels were very
near the strange _kafila_, and that party was terribly frightened. I
think the fright was mutual. When we had gone some distance, and were out
of sight of the strange caravan, we were amused at seeing the soldiers
and the Jabberi, all in line, running on at a double, firing guns, and
shouting, 'Hohh! Hohh! Hohh!' My husband asked the Relation what chance
we had of being robbed, as this seemed a convenient place, but he
comfortingly said, 'We need not be much afraid, for we have the chief of
the robbers with us.' This was really true.

The place where we were to climb down into the Wadi Adim was tremendously
steep. It really seemed very like trying to climb down the sides of a
tea-cup, I wondered how we and the camels and horses would ever do it.
However we all did, and the valley became first a crack and then a little
wider, and the road then was not so very bad in its own wild way. As soon
as the valley became a little flat the men wanted to stop and wait for
the camels, but we said we would rather be in the village of Ghail Omr,
which they said was only just round a near corner.

So we went on, but for fully two miles, till the Wadi Adim crossed our
path. It was full of palms on the far side, so we went over there, but
were made, whether we would or no, to return to the mouth of our little
wadi again; they said on account of food for the camels. There was a
fearful row when we crossed the valley, to make us go back, there were
daggers out and loud shouts that my husband and I were rascals (harami)
and Imam Sharif a dog, and Matthaios and the rest of the servants were in
great alarm.

We were now in much anxiety and perplexity, for we were told the Tamimi
had not come, and they were to have been at Ghail Omr before us, to fetch
us to Bir Borhut. We ourselves were not at the appointed place, for we
were kept pent into the little wadi. We were told that two men had been
murdered on the way to Sheher, but we never made out who they were; also
that a seyyid and a lot of the Amri tribe had come, so the Relation took
my horse and went off to investigate them.

Next morning we thought it well to be ready and to look undismayed; the
seyyid with the ten Amri joined us, and we all turned into the Wadi Adim
to our right and south. The valley is most fruitful and well worth
seeing; there are miles of palm woods; it is about 100 feet higher than
Wadi bin Ali, the slope is greater and the mountains lower; it is the
most frequented caravan route from Sheher to the Hadhramout. We passed
plenty of people coming up, and one day we met a caravan of 150 camels
from Sheher with Hadhrami merchants returning from India to enjoy the
fruits of their rascality, and end their days on the sacred soil of
Arabia. There were little tents on the camels for women, and they seemed
to us to have very few armed men.

The stream Ghail Omr is the first running one we saw since Al Ghail. It
comes from the small Wadi Loban and is very considerable. Wadi Adim is
quite the gem of the valleys that we explored. There is a _ziaret_ or
place of pilgrimage, which attracts many people, to the tomb of a seyyid
Omr, called after Omar, one of the four successors to Mohammed. The
Jabberi seem, in spite of possessing this rich valley, to be a poor
tribe. There is a large population scattered in small homesteads. They
have slaves, who live in little huts made of palm branches, with the
interstices plastered with mud.

Ten more Jabberi joined us, so when we reached Sa'ah in two hours and a
half, we were more than eighty people, with twenty-five camels, two
horses, and three donkeys. We dismounted in a dense crowd, in a field of
dry earth cut up into squares with hard ridges, so our floors were most
uncomfortable. Naturally we dared do no damage by having them dug smooth.

On our arrival at our camping ground and while we were waiting for our
tents to be ready, always a weary, irksome time to the wayworn traveller,
I was surrounded by women all masked. They seemed highly astonished at a
safety-pin I was taking out, so I gave, or rather offered it, to an old
woman near me. She wanted to take it, but several men rushed between us
and roared at us both, and prevented my giving it to her. I stood there
holding it out and she stretching out her hand, and one or two men then
asked me for it for her, so I put it down on a stone and she took it away
and seemed pleased, but a man soon brought it back to me on the end of a
stick, saying 'they did not know these things and were afraid of them.'

There was no news of the Tamimi and many told us they would not come, but
we still kept up our vain hopes, as they had promised to come and wait a
day or two for us, bringing with them a _siyara_ of the Minhali and of
the Hamoumi. However, we were never allowed to get to the trysting-place,
as we afterwards thought, because the Jabberi wanted to keep the fleecing
of us in their own hands.

Not one of our party, with the exception of Imam Sharif, wished to go to
Bir Borhut, and they all encouraged each other in discouraging us.

About a mile before reaching Sa'ah we saw an old fortress on a spur
jutting out of the precipice, with a cut road leading to it, so of course
we determined to visit it. We accordingly set out about two o'clock, my
husband and I, Saleh on the donkey, some soldiers, some of our _siyara_
of Jabberi, and my camera. But we came to a standstill when first four,
then nine, and at last fourteen men were seen on the top of the ruins,
pointing guns at us. They said they would not let us advance without
paying, and we feared to come to terms as our Jabberi first said they
were Amri, and then a tribe of Jabberi with whom they were at war. In
this uncertainty we had to turn back and my husband complained to the
sheikh of Sa'ah, who said that this blackmailing had been planned by one
of our three best Jabberi, Seid-bin-Iselem, who went with us, and that he
would send men of his own with us in the morning. In the morning they
came, sure enough, and first asked for a dollar 'to buy coffee,' but my
husband said 'No; he would give bakshish if he found writing, but if he
found no writing he would give nothing, and in any case, nothing till we
returned.' As we heard no more of them after they had retired to think
over it, we were sure there could be no inscription. Besides we had seen
that the corner-stones were the only cut ones; the others were all rough.

After dinner we and Imam Sharif had another serious council, finding
ourselves in a regular fix.

We determined to stay on one more day at Sa'ah to give the Tamimi a
chance to join us, for if we were baffled in getting from here to Bir
Borhut, we must get to Sheher as quickly as possible and try from there
to reach Bir Borhut. We wished to dismiss our camel-men, but they said
they would not let us do so, nor allow anyone else to take the loads.
They said they would take us for one rupee a day each camel, but we did
not know how many days they would take; they had also said that they
would stop where we pleased, or go on all day if we liked, but we had had
experience which led us to doubt this. They had now been asked to name
their stages; _kafilas_ can go in seven or eight days.

We determined that our next attempt to go to Bir Borhut should be with
fewer camels. It is a great mistake for explorers in dangerous countries
to have collectors with them. They are a great drag and an extra anxiety.
The preparations they can make are necessarily all made by guesswork, as
no one can tell what is to be found in an unknown country. If we had
known we should never have carried the huge spade and fork, which were
hated all the way by everyone, or the quantities of cases of spirits of
wine and receptacles for large animals, and the dozens of gins, snares,
and traps of every description for things that we never found. Of course,
in the case of our expedition, there are certain plants and reptiles
which would not yet have emerged from their primeval obscurity, and it is
a great consolation to feel that something was accomplished in that way.
For everyone who is added to such an expedition, the leader has one more
for whose life and health he feels a responsibility, one more whose
little idiosyncrasies must be studied by all the rest, and who may
endanger the safety of all by his indiscretions with regard to the
natives, and one more who must be made to pack and be ready in time, or
willing not to stray away in times of danger. Mere servants do not so
much matter, as they are under control, though the fewer of them the
better, as they are human beings who must be fed and carried; but those
above them, and who, though not entitled to a seat in the council, feel
free to make comments, are the hardest to deal with.

Before we went to bed that night, Haidar Aboul, the second interpreter,
came and swore on the Koran that the Relation had promised the camel-men
two rupees each; still we lay down happy in the assurance that we should
be at Sheher in seven days, but after a night much disturbed by guns for
a wedding, the first news that greeted us was that those camel-men wished
to leave us. They were told that they could not do so: they were bound to
take us to Sheher. They then said they would not go in seven days--who
had arranged such long stages? They were told their sheikh had. Then we
agreed to go in eight days, hoping that in the end they, finding they
would lose no money, would allow us to gain time. Some hours after the
little crooked sheikh sent to say that if those men would not take us in
seven days he would get others.

The Relation was not of much good to us. There is here no law, order,
authority, honour, honesty, or hospitality, and as to the people, I can
only describe them as hateful and hating one another. It must be an awful
life to live for ever unable to stir without _siyara_ even a few miles.
The rude Carinthian Boor cannot have been as bad as these Arabians.

After this they came and said we should go in thirteen days. Later the
sheikh sent to say he would send twenty soldiers, and make them take us
in eight days. This my husband declined, as we knew he had no power, even
in his own village.

Then the brother of the sheikh came to ask for a present for him, which
was refused, and the sheikh said afterwards we could not trust that
brother, he was a liar.

At last another list of different stages was brought, and they swore by
God and upon the Koran that they would take us in seven days.

All the time we were in Sa'ah we had to remain in our tent, tightly tied
in, for if we did not we were quite deprived of air by the crowd, which
became thicker and thicker, driving the foremost nearly into the tent
headlong. I sewed strings to the extreme edges of our doors, which
lapped half a yard, and this extension of size was very welcome. We
afterwards found these strings useful and pleasant, but we always called
them the 'Jabberi strings' in remembrance of these tormentors. If,
thinking the crowd had dispersed, we ventured to open the tent, a scout
proclaimed the fact, and we were again mobbed.

Our tent was 7 feet 6 inches square, and we found this quite large enough
when it had to be pitched on a slope, or on a narrow, rocky ledge, when
trees had to be cut down to make room in a forest, or when it was among
the boulders of a river bed. Imam Sharif's tent was larger, and though it
looked more stately in a plain, he sometimes had not room to pitch it,
and had to sleep with his servants.



CHAPTER XIV

HARASSED BY OUR GUIDES


We never could ascertain whether the Tamimi had come or not, so on
February 18, having given up all hope of joining them and changed ten
camels, we set out, but not before nine o'clock.

After Sa'ah the Wadi Adim becomes narrow, stony, and uninteresting, and
our way lay for a good part along a stony river bed, gradually mounting,
but almost imperceptibly. For several days we pursued the course of this
valley, and had we known what would befall us as we approached the head
of the Wadi Adim, I think nothing would have induced us to take this
route. It appears that a very wicked branch of the Hamoumi tribe hold a
portion of this valley, and determined that their enemies, the Jabberi,
who stole their cattle and plundered their caravans, should not have the
exclusive patronage of the lucrative English travellers on their way to
the coast. To our surprise at twelve o'clock we stopped at a well, Bir al
Ghuz, when our men began to unload the camels. They said they were only
just waiting for the Hamoumi siyara to come up, and that they had already
arrived at Sa'ah.

The Hamoumi are a small, poor tribe of Bedouin, who occupy the lower end
of Wadi Adim. They hire out camels to caravans, and do a great deal of
the carrying business. Their villages consist of miserable little hovels
gathered round forts, placed at intervals down the valleys, so that they
can see from one to another. They have many flocks and herds, for there
is actually pasturage for them, and many of the shepherds live in caves,
there being plenty in the sides of the valley, which are composed of
pudding-stone; they wall up the front.

We considered that, as Talib-bin-Abdullah, the chief of the Jabberi and
so notorious a robber, was our Mokadam, we had better keep friends with
him, therefore we spoke him fair. He and his companions came and wrote
their names after a list of stages, and made a most solemn oath they
would do anything we liked; and after we had sat for an hour or more in
the sun, waiting for the Hamoumi, they said we must pass the night at Bir
al Ghuz, still swearing to the seven days.

We therefore encamped, and very soon the Jabberi came and asked my
husband for a sheep, but he said he would not give one now, but later in
the journey he would do so if he found we were getting on well; so they
went away, but soon came back for twenty-seven dollars, as _siyar_ to the
Hamoumi. My husband said he had agreed for twenty-five, but they said
they had spent two dollars on a messenger to fetch the Hamoumi. The
Jabberi were by way of having 110 dollars for their _siyar_, forty first
and the rest at Sheher. They would not move next morning (the 20th)
without the whole of the money, so they had to be given that and the
twenty-seven dollars for the Hamoumi. Besides this they always demanded
their camel-hire every evening.

They next said the way was very dangerous, and we must take men from five
other tribes (though we could not imagine how so many could be
accommodated in that wilderness), and pay twenty dollars. As my husband
refused, and asked them to reflect upon the consequences of their
conduct, the soldiers came and now said they recommended him to pay and
recover the money at Sheher; otherwise they, the soldiers, said they
would give up their weapons to the Jabberi as a pledge that they would
pay forty dollars at Sheher. We said they might, but Talib told us that
if we did not pay they would give the Hamoumi their money and all go back
themselves. We then summoned Imam Sharif and had another council of
three.

The servants, meanwhile, used often to be leaning in at the tent door,
scanning our faces and begging us to do anything the Jabberi wanted, and
moaning that we should never see the ocean any more.

The Jabberi had gone away, as my husband said he must think over this; so
we consulted together. We at first quite decided to return to Al Koton,
and try to reach the coast by Wadi al Ain and, if we could not have the
camels, to load our own three animals with necessaries and money, leaving
all else behind, and perhaps to slip by Siwoun in the night. So Talib was
recalled, and told that we would go back; that we were now convinced of
the dangers of this road, as we saw he was afraid himself, and as he had
told us of two places where murders were always committed. But afterwards
we thought it wiser to consent to pay the extra thirty dollars (in all
fifty-seven) as _siyar_ to the Hamoumi, all the tribes mentioned being
varieties of Hamoumi. The money was to be placed on the Koran and taken
thence by Talib, with an oath that, if the sultan of Sheher thought it
unnecessary, it should be refunded. Seid-bin-Iselem and three soldiers
witnessed this, but Talib would not allow the Hamoumi to be present.
Instead of taking Talib's gun as a deposit, the soldiers were to keep the
money in their hands. We were still to be at Sheher within the seven
days, and not now to wait two or three days for the five tribes.

Though we did unpack a Koran and make Talib-bin-Abdullah swear on it, we
did not then understand that merely swearing on the binding is nothing.
The Koran must be opened, and some places are better than others. Oaths
by the life of a son, or to divorce a favourite wife, are really good. We
being, as I say, ignorant, the oaths were broken.

My husband and I now felt quite conquered; and it must be admitted we had
reason.

We had a horrible evening of dust-storms and hurricanes, and were
dreadfully afraid of the tent being blown down. In the morning we packed,
and the baggage was taken out to be tied in bundles, when Talib demanded
the eleven dollars camel-hire for the day before. In vain was he told
that all was packed, and he should have them at the next stage. No! he
would not go away without his money; so at great inconvenience we had to
pay on the nail.

We had not gone an hour before we stopped, unloaded, and changed our
camels for Hamoumi camels. 'Now all is peace,' said Talib-bin-Abdullah,
and in the same breath asked for two dollars for two extra camels, that
we had had before we reached Sa'ah. My husband refused, but when we
reached our stage Talib asked for that day's pay, and would not take it
without the two dollars. Of course my husband refused again, saying we
were not responsible for those two camels; that Talib had contracted to
take us and our baggage, and that now we had twenty-two camels instead of
the fifteen with which we arrived at Al Koton. Equally, of course, he
knew he must pay, and did.

We settled ourselves under some thorny trees at Bir bin Aboudan, where
there are two wells with good water. It is larger than most Hamoumi
villages, and has palm-trees and many large b'dom-trees.

Besides the Hamoumi, Jabberi, and Yafei, there are many small subsidiary
tribes, or rather families, forming little independent communities of
their own, in this region.

To continue the life of Talib-bin-Abdullah. As soon as he had received
the last-mentioned money, he and his companions and the Hamoumi had a
great and loud quarrel. Our money, being so bulky, was in bags scattered
about among all the baggage, but we always had one store-bag in my box,
and my husband had some for current expenses. The camel-men thought all
the money was in a certain bag that was solemnly carried into the tent
every night. While they shouted we filled the bag with a certain amount
of dollars, meant to represent our entire fortune, and placed it on the
table. We had become great hypocrites, but now we both decided that sweet
words were of no avail. Whenever Imam Sharif was sent for, the servants
crowded round, scanning our faces, and in despair themselves, saying 'our
lives are sacrificed,' and making great lamentations about their wives
and families.

It was very hard sometimes to keep our voices and countenances cheerful
while holding counsel with Imam Sharif as to how we ought to act, for
sometimes it is right to haggle over fourpence and sometimes it is right
to pay through the nose. It is difficult, indeed, when you are cudgelling
your brains, not to knit your brows, even if you only wish to decide if
you will take your umbrella or not.

Talib had not been absent from us an hour when he again arrived, saying
he wanted four dollars to pay a debt he owed in Bir bin Aboudan; 'it was
to come out of the thirty dollars still owing for the _siyara_, and to be
paid at Sheher,' he said. He was, of course, told that the money for the
_siyara_ had been fully paid up, seventy dollars before the sultan of
Shibahm, and forty at Sa'ah. Talib bawled a good deal, and my husband
pointed to the money-bag and said, 'If you want all my money, take it;
but call it by no other name than robbery. Take all at once instead of
bothering me perpetually, and I will settle with you at Sheher.'

When they heard this they were frightened, and went away, saying 'Oh! No!
No! We do not want that.' They were soon back, and said they wanted four
dollars on their food money (four annas a day), 'but not at all unless we
wished.' They then acknowledged, before the soldiers, that the _siyar_
was fully paid up, and that Talib had made a mistake about those two
dollars that he had obtained for the camels. In the meantime we had been
planning to get our most urgently needed things ready to load on the
horses and to walk to Sheher, only sixty-five miles--but such miles!
However, we knew our enemies had the advantage of knowing the way and the
water-places, which we did not, and could climb like monkeys over places
where we could not take horses.

I am sure we should never have found the way over such mountains, where
camels sat down and slid, and we did much the same, sometimes quite
involuntarily.

Saleh at this time seemed disposed to do his duty. The money (thirty
dollars) that had been extorted the day before for _siyar_ to the
Hamoumi, who had not yet turned up, and given to the soldiers, was by
them put into Saleh's keeping, as he had a box that could be locked. In
the night Talib came to Saleh and said: 'Six Hamoumi are here; give me
the money for them.' 'Wait till morning,' said Saleh, 'and I will give it
you before Mr. Bent, Imam Sharif, and everybody,' but when he offered it
to him then, he said, 'No, keep it.'

We had gone a little ahead next morning, February 21, Talib, Imam Sharif,
and I, with the needful escort, my husband having to ride a camel as his
horse's back was sore, and had proceeded an hour on our road
when--'Bang!' went a gun high up in the rocks, to our left, near the
village of Kouna or Koutna, and 'bang!' went another; so we stopped, and
with some hesitation five of the soldiers and some of the Jabberi went
forward, getting round behind the shelter of some trees. There were seven
men up in the rocks, and a tower in the village was crowded. They
constantly fired from both places. The camels soon came up, and we all
dismounted and stood together with our animals, Basha, Zubda, and Mahsoud
close by. This shooting and parleying went on for half an hour. We
thought at first that they would only fire over our heads, but a bullet
struck the ground very near us.

We could not make out what it was all about. There were so many different
suggestions made as to the cause; some said the people of the village
wanted to come with us as _siyara_, and some that they wanted to fight
the Hamoumi, who had lately taken their camels.

Our men shouted, '_Siyara! Siyara!_' and the men on the tower, 'Come no
nearer!' 'By my God you shall not come on!' 'We are fighting and we will
slay him who dares to stir a step!'

Talib said, 'Now we can go neither backward nor forward,' and amazed us
by asking for no money.

At last the soldiers came back from the village and told us to advance,
so we mounted and rode through the village amidst uncomplimentary remarks
from the scowling inhabitants. We were told some people had gone on to
intercept us, and accordingly about half a mile farther there were more
shots, this time to our right. We of course came to a standstill, but
Talib, in spite of the shooting, rushed at Mahsoud's bridle and dragged
Imam Sharif down into the river bed, calling excitedly to the rest of us
to hurry on. We passed safely, and you may be sure looked in every rock
and bush for enemies.

Hardly a quarter of a mile on, and where the valley is about three
hundred yards wide, there was a small tower to our left, and we saw a lot
of men rushing into this and appearing on the battlements. We knew they
would shoot at us and I was watching for the puff. The first shot threw
up the earth nearly two yards from my horse's nose, and the next seemed
to say 'tshish!' just at the back of my neck. It went just between my
husband and Imam Sharif, who were on foot behind me.

Everyone ran as fast as the rocky ground let them, to some trees out of
sight of that tower, but not knowing whether we were not going to meet
with more shooters, we always had our revolvers ready, though no one knew
that; our safety lay in being unarmed in the enemies' eyes; we kept them
for worse need.

The sheikh of Kouna said his name was Abdullah-bal-Jabbeli, of the tribe
of Obathani. There are two other small tribes, Zedin--Sheikh Ebenadon,
and Shibim--Sheikh Bengadem.

After that last firing there was no more that day, and we slept
peacefully at Naïda, which we reached about 12.30, and where the
inhabitants were quite friendly, bringing us all the food we asked to
buy. The valley seemed to come quite to an end, but took a sudden turn
eastward just before we reached the village. It is rather a pretty place,
but the spot on which we were encamped was dreadfully dirty, and we were
so afflicted by dust-storms, that our books were covered while we read,
and the colour of our clothes and bedding obliterated, and we had to tie
our hair up in handkerchiefs to keep it clean.

We always had quilts of turkey-red or some other cotton, for when we lay
down our beds often became sandy, and the quilts could easily be shaken
or brushed, and besides protected the blankets from burrs and
grass-thorns. We were by ourselves in the afternoon when Talib came quite
alone, and with an air of secrecy, to ask for his eleven dollars for that
day's camel hire. I rushed out to the kitchen and brought Matthaios as a
witness. Then Talib asked for two dollars, and when my husband began to
call Saleh, he said he did not want them and went away. He was soon back
again, however, with Saleh, to ask if my husband wished to pay any more
for _siyara_ of the people we were coming to. My husband said 'No,' and
after some talk Talib said he would not ask it if my husband did not
wish. I told Talib that the very next thing he would get would be my
husband's money-bag, so he retired. Later he came for thirty dollars to
send to some people that night, but my husband told him to send his own
men for them, and not afterwards to say he had paid a messenger; the
money would only be paid into those people's own hands. We lay down with
no great certainty of peace for the morrow, when we expected to reach
Ghaida.

All, however, went quietly that day, much to our relief. My husband had
been induced to pay a rupee to send a scout up the mountain to look
behind rocks and bushes for dangers, but we passed on our way completely
unmolested by the shepherdesses, young and old, who were all we met with
in the shape of human beings.

The valley became narrower, we rose higher, and the cliffs were
cavernous. Sometimes the valley seemed quite to finish up, but then it
always took a turn again. Much of the way was over large, round stones,
most horrible for the horses.

We passed a water-place two hours after we left Naïda, though Talib had
made us stop there because, he said, there was no water within a day's
journey, and we found ourselves stopped at Rahba, two hours at least
before Ghaida, where we expected to be, Talib still sticking to it that
we should be at Sheher in three more days. He only asked for four annas
for coffee to drink at the great tomb of a wali, Sheikh
Salem-bin-Abdullah Mollah el Mohagher, who is buried near a mosque and a
tank, the footbath of cattle, from which we drank pea-green water, boiled
and filtered of course. Altogether Rahba is a pretty village, but much
exposed to wind. The tribes thereabout are Mahri, Gohi, and Salbani.

February the 23rd was a weary day. Talib had asked leave to go to Sufeila
to arrange something with the sheikh, soon after our arrival at Rahba,
saying he would not be away long. He did not go all day, but at night
said he was now going, and would take sixty rupees _siyar_ then, but was
told we would take it ourselves. In the morning the Hamoumi refused to
load up, saying they had not been paid the twenty-seven dollars. Talib
was absent, but being fetched said he was keeping the money, as otherwise
the Hamoumi might leave us anywhere they liked. In the meantime the
soldiers, according to their habit, instead of keeping their weapons for
our safeguard, once more gave up their swords and guns to the Hamoumi.
They always were pledging them to our enemies, as an earnest that we
would do what they wanted.

The Hamoumi loaded the camels, on the oath of Talib that they should have
the money that night at Sufeila, a place that we were to pass, and which
the day before we were told it was impossible to reach in one stage. They
swore to take us to Bir Baokban. We started about ten o'clock, and at
eleven the camels were stopped at Sufeila, and the men said they would
wait a quarter of an hour, to which my husband consented. They then began
to lead the camels away to feed, so my husband stoutly said that if they
did that he would get other camels. Neither he nor any of us knew how or
whence these other camels could be procured, but it had the desired
effect, and they left the camels sitting among their loads. Saleh was
sent to arrange with the wretched little sheikh, and remained away till
after two o'clock. A soldier was sent to fetch him, and then arose a
tremendous uproar. First they said we should stay where we were, then
that we should go only a short distance, and on a different way to that
already settled. After that we were told we could not go to Al Figra or
Al Madi, as these were recognised places for murders, and we were told
the same of Ghail Babwazir; also a good many different numbers of days
were mentioned for our journey.

My husband said he would camp at Sufeila, but they quickly loaded up for
Bir Baokban, they said. The sheikh was given fifteen dollars, and he told
us he would send four of his sons with us.

I must say that after those four or five hours of being stared at and
called bad names, I was pretty tired. We none of us remarked that three
of the soldiers, all the Jabberi, and the four sons stayed behind.

I was riding with Imam Sharif, two Indians, four soldiers, and the groom
leading Zubda, whose back was still sore, when we came to a fork in the
way. The soldiers asked a passing man, 'Which is the way to Ghail?' The
man looked puzzled; so were we. I said, 'We want to know the way to Bir
Baokban.' 'No, no! Ghail,' said the soldiers, and when I said 'Baokban!'
again they laughed scornfully. Our _kafila_ came up, and I rode to my
husband and told him I was sure we were being led out of our way.

We were guided down a rocky slope into a valley not more than 200 feet
wide, with thick woods up each side, and a sandy bottom. Here we were
stopped by a good many shots from each side, and retreated a little,
without turning our backs, and then looked about for the four sons. There
was another row of course, and my husband said we would return to
Sufeila; but we were told at last that we might pass, so we did, and one
of the shooters soon joined us and asked for a rupee for coffee, but was
refused, and then said he would let us go to Bir Baokban if he got a
rupee, but he did not insist. We now thought it well to ask where we
were, and were told that it was Hadbeh, a place we had never heard of
before. My husband said we should return to Sufeila, and carried off a
string of camels. There was a great consultation, amid much roaring and
shouting. I rode fast to the head of the _kafila_ to see what was
happening, my husband still going back with about six camels, the others
going on, they said, to Bir Baokban. I then galloped back over the stones
to the soldiers who were behind, and said, 'Your sultan has placed you
under our orders; go and get those camels back.' 'No, no,' they said, 'it
is quite safe to go on,' and ran back as hard as they could.

I then rode back quickly to my husband, and found him in abject distress;
one of his camels had shed its load, and was seated on the ground. The
soldiers remained behind, sitting on a bank. After a long council, we
determined to go on to a village close by, where we joined the other
camels. We had barely time to set up the tents before dark, and our store
of bread and charcoal stood us in good stead. The Indian party were
dreadfully late getting to bed. Dismay reigned supreme amongst us all.

Saleh came in to our tent and said, 'The man who shot at us says, "You
cannot go on to-morrow. To-day we only shot our bullets in the air, but
to-morrow we shall shoot at you."'

We thought of going back to Sufeila, and sending to the sultan of Sheher
for help, but where could we find a messenger? When we were in bed, Saleh
came and said two men with the matches of their guns alight were standing
by our tent; some of those that had shot at us, and said they wanted four
or six annas, as they were returning to Sufeila. They refused to take
four then, so my husband said they had better come about it in the
morning.

Morning revealed that these were some of our own camel-men, who were
just pretending to be the shooters in order to get money, and also we
found out that Talib had employed the shooters to give us the fright, in
order to delay us, that the Jabberi and the soldiers might have a feast
at our expense in the village, and time to eat it. They did not reach
camp till eleven.

Next morning the soldiers brought my husband twelve of the fifteen
dollars the sheikh had received (being part of the original thirty, said
to be for the three other tribes of Hamoumi), saying that he was a very
wicked man, as he had not sent his four sons, so they had only left him
three dollars for the feast. Hardly had my husband put this by, when
Talib came and had to be given thirty-six dollars for _siyar_ to the
Mahri. Plainly we were in their hands, and had to pay whatever Talib
chose, as we might be hemmed in at any moment. We felt as if we were in a
net.

The eleven dollars camel-hire which we had kept out having gone to make
up this sum, and the camel-men refusing to load without it, we had to
unpack again to get it for them.

Sufeila, where we had endured such a disagreeable delay, is on the
tableland, 3,150 feet above the sea-level, with excellent air, excellent
water, palm and other trees, and would make a first-class sanatorium for
Aden. It is ten miles inland from Sheher as the crow flies.

About 8 o'clock next morning we started, not knowing precisely whence or
whither, and determined to keep together as much as possible. We followed
for miles the bed of a stream, which collects all the water from this
part of the akaba, and gradually develops into Wadi Adim, the great
approach to the Hadhramout. There is a fortress on a hill 3,500 feet
above the sea-level, the highest point in this part; Haibel Gabrein being
4,150 feet, and near Dizba the highest point is 4,900 feet. After some
miles on the akaba, we plunged into a valley about 200 feet wide, and
wooded with palms; the earthen cliffs were about 60 feet high, and the
bed sandy.

By this time we neither had a liking for valleys, cliffs, trees, nor
people. We did not feel pleased at being led straight across the valley
to a band of armed men, in a most unpleasant situation for us if they
meant mischief. These were only Jabberi travelling, and they were told
that we were friends of the sultan of Sheher, and not going to stay a
minute. I suppose they would have fired if we had not been introduced to
them. We were glad to reach Bir Baokban at 11.30. It is a well in a bare
place at the mouth of a valley. Talib did not wish to stay there, for the
water is brackish, and he wanted us to go on before the camel-men came
up, but we waited, and they and the Jabberi had a loud and angry quarrel,
and we were told there was no water nearer than Al Madi, and some of them
wanted to stop at a place half-way to Al Madi and send for water. We
could make neither head nor tail of it. Talib then asked my husband which
he wished to do, for so it should be; but as he knew it was a case of
'You may do as you like, but you must,' answered to that effect,
'Whichever Talib liked, we were in his hands and could not choose.' After
great hesitation we encamped in a windy, dusty, but rather pleasant place
near Bir Baokban.

There were many tombs on the way. One had three upright stones, which the
Hamoumi camel-men touched, and then kissed their fingers.

They cheerfully told us that many caravans have been robbed here, and men
murdered; pleasant news for us.

We asked them why we had been fired on, and they said that the people
believed we poisoned the wells. The soldiers came and shouted at us a
good deal, saying, 'Why do you hire Bedouin to protect you? Are we not
here? Do you not trust us?' We soothed them with flattering words, and
then Talib came and extorted nine more dollars.

In the morning we had to pay three dollars to three men who said they had
seen four men, which four men ran away. We were informed that we were to
pass through three tribes that day, and should have a good deal of
trouble on the way to Dizba, the place half way to Al Madi. As a matter
of fact we were pretty sure that these later scares were only got up to
frighten more money out of our pockets. The soldiers were told to go in
front, but they often sat down and lit a fire for their water pipe, got
behind, or rode a camel.

Though we went up and down a good deal, it was not too steep to ride all
the way, and though there were watchings and scoutings, we saw neither
man nor beast, nor any habitation of the three tribes. As we went along
my husband was told that an old woman (whom we never saw) had come and
said that the men of Al Madi would not let us pass, and that we must
write to the sultan of Sheher to send us two hundred soldiers.

There is water at Dizba, though we were told there was none till Al Madi.
We encamped in a sheltered spot, a sort of pot between low hills. We
ought, according to the solemn contract, to have been at Sheher by that
time. We talked over the plan of sending to Sheher, and decided that
doing so meant much pay to the messenger, thirty or forty more dollars
_siyar_, and, what was worst, four days' delay; it would also cost
forty-four dollars in camel-hire; so we decided that it was far better to
push on, for our delay would only give time to more enemies to gather
round us. It would likewise be far cheaper, and so it subsequently turned
out.

From being hypocrites we now became liars, and my husband said he had not
so much money left, and that he had already paid four rupees to send men
on the morrow. There was some talk of our all going by night and getting
past Al Madi, but in that case our own men would only fire on us to
frighten us. Next we heard that there was no village at Al Madi where we
could buy forage; we had but little left, though plenty of dried bread.
Then three Jabberi came and said they were getting lame, and wanted eight
dollars to buy a donkey out of their food-money, but my husband said he
had paid so much for _siyara_ that he had not enough to pay that till we
reached Sheher.

There was an idea that they would shoot round us in the night, for they
spoke of the dangerous situation in which we were, and wanted six or
eight dollars to pay for scouts on the hills, but went away when my
husband said he would see about it in the morning. In case they did we
determined to remain silent in our beds that they might be unable to
locate us, and in that case they would not fire at our tents for fear of
hitting us.

We had a very cold night; the dew in the morning was streaming off our
tent in heavy drops.

Talib said, 'The people of Al Madi do not want money, but our lives and
souls.' We did not think they meant to kill us, but only to frighten
money out of us. We also overheard some conversation about our lives and
baggage being in peril. We had not far to go, but the way was very
intricate.

At sunset we three had a great council, and sent for Saleh; the soldiers,
having been flattered, were fetched too, as we now thought we had them on
our side, and we threatened to ruin them and their families, or to give
them good bakshish if they did well by us. My husband said we had decided
that in future he would not give another pi (not to eat, but there are a
good many pies in an anna and also pice), but that, as the camel-men
spoke of stopping between Dizba and Al Madi, we would have some food
ready to eat on the journey and get the soldiers to force them on; and,
if we had to stay, to load the horses and start the following morning to
Sheher. The soldiers agreed on promise of a good sheep next day; the
Hamoumi camel-men were promised coffee and sugar, so they agreed also.

When they were all gone, Saleh, to our unbounded amazement, said that
Seid and Talib had confided to him 114 rupees, on account of his having
the locked box; so he brought them to us, and amid shouts of laughter
they were engulfed in our bag.

By the bye, we actually had two of the Al Madi people with us, so we
ought to have been safe; or what is the good of _siyara_?

In the morning an awful object met our view. This was a soldier, a very
ugly black man, who was dragged along on his knees by his arms and
shoulders to our tent. He had been struck by the cold, his companions
said. He seemed to be perfectly helpless, and to have no control or use
of any muscles save those which were at work making the most horrible
grimaces. I ran to the kitchen and fetched our tea, to the rage of
Matthaios, who said he had no more water to replace it, and that as it
was we could not have a cupful each. It was poured down his throat in a
very rough way, but refused to stay. My husband gave him some of an
unknown medicine, that he said was specially used for such cases, and
this brandy just trickled out of his mouth, so they dragged him away to
their own fire, still in a kneeling position. They then opened his jacket
and burnt him a good deal with a hot sword, and he was given tepid water
to drink, which stayed down very well. When we were about to start, he
was held upright by two men. A thick square shawl was put rather
carelessly over his head with the fringe over his face, and pushed back
off his shoulders, to allow his arms to come out through an _abba_, a
kind of cloak with armholes, which was also put over his head. They came
out so high up of course, that the hands stuck out on a level with his
ears. High up under his elbows, and far above his waist, a turban was
wound, and a muffler was put round his neck and mouth; he hobbled along
with two supporters and leaning on a spear, with the shawl streaming on
the ground like a train--a very absurd sight. In about an hour he was
quite well.

Talib, not knowing of our little plan of going with the Hamoumi to Al
Madi, came and told us how very dangerous Al Madi was, and that it would
be far better to go by Ghail Babwazir, if only the camel-drivers would
agree. If they would not, he would put all our most necessary things,
_i.e._ our money, on his own camel, and we would ride secretly off
together. It is needless to say we did not consent, as it would have been
'Good-bye Talib and money!'

Then Ali, the chief of the camel-men, came and said he would not go
unless he got six secret dollars for himself and six for the others, and
said he would (like Ananias and Sapphira) swear he had only six. Imam
Sharif and Saleh again perjured themselves in our behalf to such an
extent that my husband and I could hardly sit by, but we must speak the
language of the country, I suppose.

From Dizba we passed over very high ground, 4,300 feet, with a cold
refreshing wind from the sea. It seemed to us a healthy climate. In a
little narrow pass is a rude tomb near the rough stone cabin of a sainted
lady called Sheikha, where our soldiers and camel-men made their
devotions.

I had a very uncomfortable ride, for on the way we saw an aloe of a kind
we had not seen before, and which proved to be new enough to obtain the
name of _Aloe Luntii_. The botanist sawed off the head of it (which is
growing now in Kew Gardens), and we knew he dared not try to take it on
his camel, as the men always quarrelled over every weight that was added
to the load; so I told him to go on and leave it, as if he did not care
for it, and then I tied it to the off-side of my saddle, and had to ride
hanging heavily on my left stirrup, as otherwise I should have been
over-balanced, and my horse would have got a sore back. On arrival, I
dismounted in a quiet place, put the aloe down with my jacket thrown on
it, and later fetched it into the tent, under cover of my feminine
draperies, and at night it was smuggled into some package. On one
occasion, when no one had been riding for some days past, a felt
saddle-cloth somehow was left behind by us, so one of our own men was
forced to carry it in his hand till I discovered it, and tied it to my
saddle, for he was not allowed to put it on a camel. I tell this to show
how very disobliging they were to us.

Mariala is the name of a disgusting pool or cistern of the very dirtiest
water, on a bare and lonely hillside, where we were exposed to wind and
cold, and where we encamped in much the same state of perplexity as
usual.

Soon after our arrival my husband was asked for eight dollars to send
fifteen men up the hills to look for murderers; he refused, then the
camel-men said they would not start without six men to go ahead, but that
was refused too.

Next morning we started for Al Madi. We wound up and down, over bare
ground, and could see no danger for miles. At a point on the highland we
waited for the camels to come up; they came and passed to the southward
on a well-trodden path. Talib called out to them to stop, and said that
he would not go that way, and that we should not, and that the men were
taking us into danger. He pointed to the south-west, but we did not like
parting from our baggage. Talib then asked my husband which way he
pleased to go.

'Which is the best?' he asked.

'I do not know,' said Talib.

'Very well,' said my husband, 'we will follow the camels.' On we all went
in great doubt, and the Jabberi told us awful stories of the Hamoumi
intentions. We had five armed Jabberi, seven soldiers, and twelve
Hamoumi, all armed, including two little boys.

The soldiers, so brave the night before, said: 'We can do nothing--we are
afraid. If we fired a gun, or if they fired, hundreds of people would
come, and they would kill us.'

They never either raised their weapons or their tongues in our defence.
They said the sultan of Sheher would not be able to go himself or send
soldiers into these parts, and that the Al Madi people wished to decoy us
to Al Madi and kill us. The Jabberi said the same, and Talib again wished
us to ride off with him.

The Hamoumi said it was all Talib's fault, for he owed a great deal of
money at Al Madi, and was afraid of going thither.

The Hamoumi then said they would take us to Ghail Barbwazir or Barbazir
or Babwazir, but we must keep it a secret from the Jabberi and the
soldiers.

Saleh said to them, 'My dear friends, tell me the truth. Where are we
going? I also am an Arab and a Moslem, and I swear by my Koran and my
religion, that we will give you forty dollars, and spend two days in
Ghail Babwazir, during which you will have your eleven dollars a day; and
we will engage you on to Sheher, and give you good bakshish, and a good
character to the sultan and two nice turbans.'

We gasped in amazement at this.

'Oh!' said Saleh, 'I only read them something from the preface of the
Koran! We are not bound at all. If I had to swear falsely on the Koran, I
should have to be given a great many guineas!

We never knew the name of the place where we slept that night.

Talib came in the morning and said he could not persuade the Bedou
Hamoumi to go to Ghail Babwazir. We told him that they had agreed to do
so, and he was very angry at our having settled anything without him.
Then Ali said he could not go in two days; so he was led aside and
privily threatened with public betrayal as to having taken twelve dollars
and saying he only had six. Then they all wanted payment in advance, but
the same threat to Ali availed to avert this bother and we set out, told
that we should go as far as Gambla.

We had, after, all, to part from the camels, which went a more roundabout
way, while we climbed down 1,000 feet over very steep rocks, with the use
of hands as well as feet, the horses being with us, to a place not very
far from water. The horses were sent to fetch a little, while we awaited
the camels more than half an hour, and ate some food we had with us.

The horses had been badly off and had only bread and dates, for the
camel-men would sell us no forage. When they arrived they said we must
stay where we were, and there was a fierce row as usual. They also
demanded their eleven dollars, but gave up sooner than unload, as we said
we would not stop.

At one time, when we had been waiting a long while for the return of
those camels which had gone to fetch skins of water, Talib caused our
horses to be saddled, mounted his camel, and started, but my husband
would not go on to Gambla, when the camel-men had refused to go there.
Then we all lay down on rough stones, scorching in the sun for hours,
wondering what would happen and whether we could get any farther that
day, but at length we suddenly were invited to start.

We had a very steep climb up on foot and then down, and pitched our tents
for the night in a very bare little hollow. We were very sorry for the
horses; it was sad to see them turning over the stones, and we longed for
some real horse food for them.

The soldiers sent a letter to Sheher to announce our arrival, and they
wished to send for more soldiers, but we begged them not to do so, as
they were quite useless.

Seid-bin-Iselem in this lonely spot came to Saleh and wanted some money
to buy something, where there was no one to sell. Saleh said the money
was still in his box, and to make his words good smuggled it in again, in
a most clumsy but quite successful way.

Ali's secret had twice to be threatened, next morning, for different
reasons before we could start, and then they all roared that they would
none of them carry our chairs. We all travelled on foot still, as there
was much climbing to do. We climbed down 2,000 feet, very steep in parts,
to Gambla.

Gambla is a verdant and palmy place where we could buy so much food for
our hungry horses that at length my Basha turned his back on his big
pile, and came with long green streamers hanging from his sated mouth to
doze beside me.

There was a struggle, of course, to stay the night at Gambla, and we were
told we could not reach Ghail Babwazir till very late, but we said we did
not care how late, and Ali was once more privately drawn aside, and again
threatened about the twelve dollars, so it was agreed we should go on.

We waited, however, a long time, and seeing no camels collected to load I
said very loud, 'Call all the Hamoumi together here, and tell Ali that
the very last moment has come.'

Ali rushed about, and soon had us on our way.



CHAPTER XV

RETRIBUTION FOR OUR FOES


We reached Ghail Babwazir in three hours, at half-past five, passing
through several oases. It is a large town. Some children, as I came round
a corner, cried, 'Let us flee! here is a demon' (_afrit_).

All the guns of our escort were fired, and we were ushered into a house,
where there was a good-sized room with some matting.

We were all very tired, hot and hungry, but alas for Arab hospitality! No
coffee was brought, not even water, and when our servants asked for water
and wood--'Show us first your money' was the answer they got.

We had a very public visit from the governor, who is called sultan, and
who asked us if we had had a pleasant journey, and wondered how we could
have been so many days on the road.

He was told of all our troubles, and took the Hamoumi, Mohammad, who shot
at us, a prisoner, and his _jembia_ (or as they say in Southern Arabia
_ghembia_), without which he is ashamed to be seen, was given into my
husband's custody.

Our expedition all passed a peaceful night, thankful to be in security
after eighteen days of anxiety, never knowing what ambushes we might be
led into; but Talib we heard did not sleep at all and was quite ill from
fright, as contrary to his wishes he was, said the sultan, to be taken to
Sheher with us on the morrow.

Ghail Babwazir is an oasis or series of oases of rank fertility, caused
by a stream the water of which is warm and bitter, and which is conducted
by channels cut in the rock in various directions.

Acres and acres of tobacco, bananas, Indian corn, cotton, and other crops
are thus produced in the wilderness, and this cultivation has given rise
to the overgrown village.

The stream was discovered about five hundred years ago by one Sheikh
Omar, and before that time all this part was waste ground.

This fertilising spring rises under a hill to the east, where a large
reservoir has been dug out. Above on the hill are some Arab ruins, places
where things were stored, and there is a road up. Canals cut some twenty
feet deep, like the _kanats_ of Persia, conduct the water to the fields.
The chief product is tobacco, known as Hamoumi tobacco.

Our roof happened to command a view of the terrace where a bride and her
handmaidens were making merry with drums and coffee. In spite of the
frowns and gesticulations of the order-keeper, who flourished her stick
at us and bade us begone, we were able to get a peep, forbidden to males,
at the blushing bride. She wore on her head large silver bosses like tin
plates, her ears were weighed down with jewels, her fingers were straight
with rings, and her arms a mass of bracelets up to the elbow, and her
breast was hidden by a multiplicity of necklaces. Her face, of course,
was painted yellow, with black lines over her eyes and mouth like heavy
moustaches, and from her nose hung something which looked to us like a
gold coin. The bride herself evidently had no objection to my husband's
presence, but the threatening aspect of her women compelled us
reluctantly to retire.

On the 29th we set out for Sheher, or Shaher Bander as it is called, a
most cheerful set of people, at least as far as our own immediate party
was concerned; some of the others had little cause for pleasant
anticipations.

We were in advance of the baggage camels, riding our horses and donkey,
and accompanied by Talib, without his dagger, on his camel. Matthaios,
the Jabberi, and the soldiers surrounding the prisoner Mohammad, attached
by a long rope to my husband's horse, an arrangement not invented by my
husband, but which we enjoyed very much, and no wonder, after all we had
suffered!

The servants all thought that as soon as might be after getting to Sheher
we should take ship for Aden, and many were the plans made for vengeance
upon Saleh once he was safe in our clutches on board that ship.

We, however, had quite another design, which was that my husband and Imam
Sharif and I should go off to Bir Borhut, if the safety of our lives
could in any way be guaranteed, we taking only Noura, one of the Indian
servants, as our own attendant. Of course the others would be with their
master.

Several times we went by small passes through gypsum hills, lovely to
behold, and twice we passed water, not so bitter as Ghail Babwazir. We
had plenty of up and down hill, but never had to dismount. The way was,
for the most part, arid and uninteresting. Four years before, in these
passes, the Hamoumi had attacked a caravan and killed nine men, taking
eighty camels and 2,000 rupees. They must have had _siyara_, though, from
some tribe. Each tribe has its fixed tariff. The Hamoumi have
twenty-seven dollars, the Jabberi seventy, the Tamimi one hundred, &c.,
and when this sum is paid, if you have only one of each tribe with you,
you are safe.

When we had gone two-thirds of our way we reached a palm-shadowed village
called Zarafa. Here we went into a house to eat our luncheon and obtain
some coffee, which had to be prepaid.

We reached Sheher about four o'clock. The last three miles, going
eastward, were close along the shore at low tide. It was quite
delightful, and we were very much amused at all the crabs we put to
flight.

We were very glad to dismount in the middle of the town, at the gate of
an old castle, and were shown up into a room about 50 feet by 30 feet,
with a good many chairs, tables, and sofas, arranged stiffly, and all
dusty. Indian cotton carpets covered the floor, and there was a great
number of very common lamps with lustres.

We waited wearily nearly an hour, while the Sultan Hussein Mia and his
brother, Sultan Ghalib Mia, put on their best clothes, and at last we
became so out of patience that my husband sent a message to the wazir,
asking him to be kind enough to send a man to point out to us a spot
where we might pitch our tents, and an answer then was returned that the
sultans were coming. When they appeared, very gorgeous, our letter from
Aden was given, with that from Sultan Salàh of Shibahm, and my husband
requested leave to make a camp. Sultan Hussein looked round him and asked
if this room would not do? Imam Sharif explained to him that we were
rather a large party for such accommodation (the whole of our expedition
being then present in the room), that we should require separate
apartments, and, therefore, would prefer a private house. We were given
tea in crockery of the commonest kind; I had an odd cup and saucer which
both leaked badly, and I feared my cup would fall into four pieces, but
they had come from afar, and I dare say the sultans would be astonished
at the care we take of cracked cups from foreign parts.

We were then led on foot quite to the other side of the town, where there
was a 'summer-house' partly constructed and partly furnished, the
builders were on one side and we on the other. We had a room with a
carpet, a settee, and two little tables, and set up our own beds and
chairs. We had rather a good dinner served by an Indian butler who could
talk English, so we had hopes of being very comfortable. The summer-house
at that time consisted of two very long rooms back to back, and several
rooms at each end projecting so as to form a verandah for each of the
long rooms. The back one was quite unfinished then, and upstairs there
were only rudimentary walls traced out, three or four feet high. There
was a great square wall surrounding a piece of desert in process of being
transformed into a garden; the sea sand came quite up to the wall.

We found the heat intense, so we had our tent somehow fastened up on the
roof to sleep. All the sides had to be tied up for coolness, but the
defences against mosquitoes and fleas were very stifling. Goats had been
kept on the roof, and hence the fleas. We could only stay there till
sunrise, and then had to betake ourselves to our suffocating room, to
find the flies wide awake. We had to use our mosquito curtains by day on
their account. In Shibahm the mosquitoes are awake by day only, and at
Aden both by day and night.

Imam Sharif found great favour in the eyes of the two sultans, who asked
him to supper every day. The conversations he had with them about us, and
the letters they had received from their cousin at Shibahm, did us far
more good than the letter from the wali of Aden. They said this gave them
no idea other than that my husband was 'only a merchant' or a person of
that rank. They were very hospitable to us while we were in their town.

They examined into our complaints with regard to the treatment we had
experienced on our journey. Mohammad, who had shot at us, and Ali, the
one who had extorted the money from us, were both imprisoned, and this
money was made to pay for our last two days' journey. Talib was forced
to repay the thirty dollars and sent to summon the heads of those
villages which had fired upon us, his sword being taken from him as a
disgrace, and all were to wait in Sheher, till after Ramadan was over, to
be judged.

This, of course, was pleasing to us; however, no money could repay us for
the anxiety of this journey under the protection of the Jabberi, and we
considered it as quite the worst experience we had ever undergone in the
course of any of our travels.

On reflection we could attribute these troubles neither to any
indiscretion on our part, nor to neglect of care on the part of the
sultan of Shibahm.

We have always been perfectly polite in respecting the prejudices of the
inhabitants of the countries through which we have travelled, never, on
the one hand, classing all non-Europeans as 'natives' and despising high
and low alike as inferior to ourselves in intelligence and everything
else, nor, on the other, feeling that, having seen a few men, not quite
as white as ourselves, in no matter what country or continent, we
thoroughly understood how to manage 'these niggers.'

Sultan Salàh did, assuredly, his very uttermost to secure our safety and
comfort, quite disinterestedly. He absolutely refused to take a sum of
money, saying, 'I want nothing, I have plenty.' When we determined to
have some money melted and to have a silver-gilt present made for him, he
heard of our vain inquiries for a non-existent jeweller, and earnestly
begged that we would do no such thing. 'He loved the English, and only
asked that my husband would mention him favourably to the English
Government'--and this favourable mention has gained him nothing.

If when my husband asked that a reliable interpreter should be
recommended to him, he had been sent a man favourably disposed towards
ourselves, and capable of inspiring respect in others, instead of a
little clerk, aged twenty, from a coal-office, a fanatical Moslem who
hated his employers, we should have been in a much better position, and
have been able to pass on from the Jabberi to the Hamoumi, whereas
travelling with the Jabberi through the Hamoumi country we had to
encounter their enemies as well as our own.

Sheher is a detestable place by the sea, set in a wilderness of sand.
Once it was the chief commercial port of the Hadhramout valley, but now
Makalla has quite superseded it, for Sheher is nothing but an open
roadstead with a couple of _baggalas_ belonging to the family of Al
Kaiti, which generally have to go to Hami to shelter, and its buildings
are now falling into ruins, since the Kattiri were driven away. Why
anyone should choose such a place for a town, and continue to live in it,
is mysterious. It is a place so unpleasant with flies and fleas, that the
inhabitants often go to sleep on the seashore. The doors of the houses
are very prettily carved all over, also the cupboards, and lintels to
doors; we tried to buy some but could not. They have texts from the Koran
carved on them. We were not allowed to buy them for fear we should work
magic with them.

There is a very picturesque mosque with a sloping minaret, white domes,
palm-trees, and a well, and hard by a house we saw a miniature mosque--a
sort of doll's house--built for children who play at prayers. They can
just crawl into it. It is hung with lamps, and the children make mud pies
of various shapes, which they put in it. Especially during Ramadan they
are encouraged to play at mosque, and the lamps are lit up every evening.
It is 3 feet high and 3 feet square, and has its little dome, minaret,
and parapet like other mosques.

There is an imposing gateway to the town--but built in a kind of
Romanesque style which does not suit Arabia--with long guard-houses on
each side, and various quaint weapons and powder-flasks hung upon it.

Ghalib, the eldest son and heir of the chief of the Al Kaiti family,
ruled here as the vicegerent of his father, who is in India as _jemadar_
or general of the Arab troops, nearly all Hadhrami, in the service of the
Nizam of Hyderabad. Ghalib was quite an oriental dandy, who lived a life
of some rapidity when in India, so that his father thought it as well to
send him to rule in Sheher, where the opportunities for mischief are not
so many as at Bombay. He dressed very well in various damask silk coats
and faultless trousers of Indian cut, his swords and daggers sparkled
with jewels, in his hand he flourished a golden-headed cane, and as the
water is hard at Sheher, he sends his dirty linen in dhows to Bombay to
be washed. He was exceedingly good to us, and as we wanted to go along
the coast for about eighty miles, to get a sight of the mouth of the
Hadhramout valley near Saihut, where it empties itself into the Indian
Ocean, he arranged that the chief of the dreaded Hamoumi tribe should
personally escort us, so that there might be no further doubt about our
safety.

Sultan Hussein had married a daughter of Sultan Salàh two years before,
when she was eleven years old.

The Al Kaiti family have bought up property all round the town, and
talked of laying out streets and bringing water to Sheher. We heard that
one brother had to have all his share in money, and had twenty-two lacs
of rupees, about 150,000_l_.

We became very tired of Sheher before we finally left, having to stay a
week, while arrangements were made for our onward way, and on account of
Ramadan no communications could be held with anyone, or business be done
till sunset. We seemed all day to be the only people alive, and then at
night we could hardly sleep for the noise.

Our only pleasures were walks at sunset along the sand, picking up lovely
shells and watching the crabs, and we used to sneak out as quietly as we
could for fear of being pursued by soldiers. Our little walks were very
much shortened when we had an armed escort dogging our steps. Once we got
a mile away but were fetched back for fear of the Hamoumi, Sheher being
quite on the frontier. There is a round, black basaltic mountain which
they call the Hamoumi mountain. The Hamoumi tribe occupy nearly all the
mountainous district east of Sheher, between the Hadhramout valley and
the sea, and they are reported to be very powerful. Next to them come the
tribe of Mahra.

Even Sultan Ghalib himself cannot ride far out of his capital
unprotected, because the Hamoumi are his foes.

We tried to get leave to go to Saihut in the Mahri country, but that was
impossible, and at last it really was settled that we should go to Bir
Borhut and Kabr Houd. We were highly delighted, and fear broke out badly
again among the servants, who dreaded the very name of those places. They
gladly took permission to remain behind. All arrangements about _siyara_
were made, and we were never to stop more than one night anywhere, and to
return by a different way, and the day of departure was settled; but the
day before that fixed, it became apparent that we Christians could by no
means be permitted to go near Kabr Houd, and that the time occupied for
the journey would now be thirty-one days, and we must wait till after
Ramadan. It was to be a mere journey without our seeing anything that we
wanted to see, and it was getting very late and hot, and we did not feel
we could spend so long a time for so little; therefore we gave up all
idea of seeing Bir Borhut and Kabr Houd that year. It was to have cost
us 670 dollars, at seven to the pound sterling.

By the way, Maria Theresa dollars are always spoken of as _reals_. You
have to buy them dear, two rupees and a varying amount of annas, and are
told they are very hard to get. They are tied up in bags, and you may
very well trust the banker for the number of coins; but if you are wise
you will examine them all, for any dirty ones, or any that are the least
worn or obliterated, or that have any cut or mark on them, will be
rejected and considered bad in the interior. When you return to
civilisation you hasten to the banker to change these dollars, and you
sell them cheap, for you are told that there is now little demand for
dollars, they are quite going out of use and rupees only are used--quite
a fable. No matter how many extra annas you may have paid, the dollar
only passes for two rupees in the interior. We lost 1,100 rupees on this
one journey between our departure from Aden and our return to Aden.

We next settled to go to Mosaina along the coast, and still to start on
the appointed day. Therefore we were up betimes (what little baggage we
were to take being bound in bundles the day before), packed our beds, and
then we waited; it was not certain till four o'clock that no camels were
coming. No one could do anything, as the sultan had no power beyond his
own dominions, and the camel-men were all foreigners.

However, next morning seven camels came and we were quickly on the road,
causing great terror to the crabs. When I say the road I mean the sand at
low tide.

We had the chief of all the Hamoumi with us, a very old, rich, and dirty
man, but most precious to us as a safeguard. Two of his sons were kept as
hostages in Sheher till we should return in peace.

We also had the governor of Kosseir with us, as well as men of the
various little tribes whose country we were to traverse, as _siyara_. The
camels and _siyara_ cost twelve dollars. The camels were hired by the
job, twelve days, so it would not pay them to dawdle.

We had told the sultans how Saleh had behaved and asked them to keep him
under their eyes till our return, and this is how we managed without him
as interpreter. We talked English to Imam Sharif, he talked Hindustani to
his Afghan servant Majid, Majid talked his own tongue to an Afghan whom
we annexed at Sheher, and he could speak Arabic. We got on very well, but
as such a party had to be assembled to say important things, we had to
struggle to express simple things ourselves.



CHAPTER XVI

COASTING EASTWARD BY LAND


The journey was delightful, nearly all the way by the edge of the sea,
past miles and miles of little mounds thrown up by the crabs in making
their holes: daily they make them, and they are daily washed away by the
tide. They live in holes higher up, but these are refuges for the day
while they are scavenging in the sea. They were nearly under the feet of
the horses. Near Sheher we passed the mouth of the Arfa river, where
there is water, and near it are horribly smelling tanks where they make
fish oil.

We had to make a deviation of two miles inland to cross the estuary of
the Wadi Gherid, and then go down to the sea again, but the last mile was
over a low cliff covered with a smash of huge shells. It must be a
furious place in a storm. We passed a wretched hamlet consisting of a few
arbours and a well, whose waters are both bitter and salt.

Hami (hot), where we stopped, is sixteen miles from Sheher. It is most
picturesquely situated at the foot of some low spurs, volcanic in nature,
and is fertilised by a stream so very hot that you can hardly put your
hands in it; indeed, in the tanks where it is collected in large volume,
it is quite impossible. It is much cooler in the little irrigation
channels, which have hard beds from the incrustation of the sulphur. The
water is very nasty when hot, but much better when it cools. We did not
enjoy our tea at all in Hami. We were encamped in a delightful spot
under both date and cocoanut-trees, and hot baths were a pleasure to
everyone. I had to wait a long time till mine in the tent was cool
enough.

There was a great flutter when we arrived on the scene, for there were a
large number of women and girls bathing. They did not seem to mind their
own relations seeing them, but on our approach they rushed into their
blue dresses and fled.

This sulphureous stream makes the crops grow prodigiously, and we walked
through fields of jowari and Indian corn as high as our heads. At our
camp we had a delicious sea-breeze, but in our walks abroad we got an
occasional whiff of the little fish which were being boiled down to make
oil for lamps and colours used in ship-painting.

We paid a visit to the governor of Hami, who received us on the roof of
his house, where many were assembled, and scarcely had he greeted us when
they all fell to praying, the mollah standing in front to lead, and all
the others standing in a row behind. After that they gave us coffee with
no sugar, followed by tea with far too much, and they pressed us to stay
with them and partake of their evening meal, but we declined politely and
retired to our camp.

On March 11 we started for Dis without any rows or brawls whatever. Dis
is fifteen miles off. We never went down to the shore at all that day,
but travelled over a barren, undulating country which runs out to sea and
forms Ras Bagashwa. We went for half a mile close above the sea on a
cliff 20 or 30 feet high, with many shells, some in an ordinary state,
some half petrified, and some wholly so, but none embedded in the stone.
After travelling three hours and a half we passed over and amongst a
range of low hills, a volcanic jumble with earths of all colours, seams
of gypsum stuck up edgeways, and many other things.

I used once to sigh and groan over not having brought a geologist with
us, but I was wiser by that time. It was enough to think of his specimens
and their transport, to say nothing of the responsibility for his safety.
Still my husband and I often wished we knew more of geology than we did.

When the geologist does visit these parts he must make a special bargain
with his camel-men, not based on his apparent, present, visible baggage,
but upon what it may expand to. He might arrange to pay at the end
according to the results of his journey. On one of the dreadful days with
the Jabberi, the man whose camel carried the botanical boxes positively
refused to load up, on account of having seen stones with lichen put in;
and but for the fact of his being last and that all the other camels had
started, we might have had to throw the things away.

There was nothing to see at Dis but a sudden oasis of fertility caused by
a _ghail_, but the report of an inscription led my husband a long
wild-goose chase. The district is very populous, and from the old forts
near it evidently has been and is a very prosperous place.

We had a great many patients, and were nearly driven wild with starers.

To avoid the crowd we pitched our tent tight up against a field of
sugar-canes, but so anxious were the populace to see me, that the whole
field was trodden down and no one seemed to mind. There were perpetual
shouts for the 'woman' to come out. On this part of the journey, as well
as in the Hadhramout, I was always simply spoken of as the _Horma_ (plur.
_Harem_) and never as _Bibi_ (lady).

There were some very light-skinned Arabs at Dis, with long dark hair,
which they dress with grease, wearing round their neck a cocoanut
containing a supply of this toilet-requisite for the purpose. Most of
them affect red plaid cotton turbans and waist-cloths, a decided relief
to the eye from the perpetual indigo.

We had a very damp night, not from rain but from dew, though there is
more rain in this part than in the interior.

We had an uninteresting march next day, over desert and many stones, up
and down hill, past a village called Ghaida, and went somewhat out of our
way to see a rock with bitumen or asphalte oozing out of it. We went
fifteen miles and encamped near Bagashwa on the margin of a large and
pretty pool made by recent rains, with bushes round it. Though pretty,
this pool was not clean. Almost before we could dismount the camels were
unloaded and in it, my horse immediately followed, and likewise all the
camel-men, and by the time our vessels could be unpacked to fetch the
drinking water, the soldiers were washing their clothes, consequently our
water was turbid and of mingled flavours.

Later my husband took a bath, and said he felt as if he was sitting in
warm oil.

My horse, for two days after this, was afflicted with a mysterious
bleeding from the mouth which we did not till then discover was caused by
three leeches under his tongue. We did not like to put the bit in, so the
immense iron ring which was usually round his chin hung round his neck
and clanked like the clapper of a bell, while the nose was thrust through
that part meant for his ears.

Some pastoral Bedouin were encamped near here, whose abodes are about the
simplest I ever saw: just four posts stuck in the ground with a roof of
mats to afford some shelter from the sun; on this roof they hang their
cooking utensils, their only impedimenta when they move. One old woman
was boiling a pot of porridge, another was grinding grain on a stone,
another was frying little fish on a stick, whilst the men were engaged in
picketing the kids on a rope with a very loose noose round each little
neck, and preparing the oil-cakes for their camels. We had just sunlight
left to photograph them, and perpetuate the existence of this most
primitive life. Young camels are reared here.

We were so lucky as to discover a scorpion that had travelled in our tent
from Dis, before it could do us harm.

That day one of the Bedou soldiers came to me and asked me in a
confidential sort of whisper, 'Are you a man or a woman?'

We were five hours on our journey to Kosseir (11 miles), which was our
next stage, over stones first, then over heavy sand to the shore again.
There were not so many shells, seaweeds, corals, crabs, madrepores,
sponges, and flamingoes as we had seen near Sheher, but hundreds of
seagulls sitting in the shallow water, and quantities of porpoises. The
lobster-shells which lie about are a beautiful blue mixed with red.

The great stretch of basalt which runs for fully fifteen miles along the
coast, with Kosseir in the middle, caused us to mount on to the rocks
some little distance before reaching Kosseir, and when we got quite near
we sat on a rocky hillock, contemplating the town and awaiting our
_kafila_, that we might arrive with all the dignity due to the governor.
All our baggage was on five camels and the old sultan of the Hamoumi on
the sixth, so we really need not have had the seventh. That dirty old
Bedou owns many houses in Ghail Babwazir and other places.

The governor was a very thin old man very like Don Quixote, his scanty
hair and beard dyed red with henna. He had been governor five years
before, and was now reappointed at the request of the town, so great were
the rejoicings, manifested by the firing of many guns. Some came to meet
him at the rock, some stayed in the town, some appeared on the tops of
the numerous towers, but no matter where they were, one and all, as well
as those who came with us, fired off their guns whenever they liked,
under our noses, in and from every direction. Our animals did not mind
one bit.

The governor and all the foot-passengers arrived in the town with their
feet twice the natural size from the clinging mud, through which we had
to pass, and which necessitated great scraping of feet and picking out
between toes with daggers.

We were most pleasantly received and taken upstairs in the governor's
castle to a roofless room with a kind of shed along one side, and here we
subsided on mats, very hot, and soon a most powerfully strong tincture of
tea with much sugar, ginger, and cinnamon was administered to us; and
though the kind old governor was so busy being welcomed by his happy old
friends, he was always coming to see that we were properly attended to.

We had our camp in his yard, where we had a very comfortable room, and
enjoyed having his wall round us very much.

In the evening we went on the shore and about the town. The town is on a
small point and approached from the west it seems to 'lie four-square'
and to present a very strong appearance, 'with its yetts, its castle, and
a'.' We rode in by the gate on the northern side and were surprised to
find that the side towards the sea had no wall, but only four detached
towers. There were fishing-boats on the beach, with the planks just sewn
together with cords.

The long line of black basalt, jutting into capes here and there, is
thought by the Arabs to be formed by the ashes of infidel towns. The tiny
port of Kosseir is just a nook where the boats can nestle behind a small,
low, natural breakwater of the basalt. Boats lie on either side,
according to the wind.

Next we went to Raida, three hours all along the top of the cliff; the
old Hamoumi sultan was with us, of course, otherwise there would have
been no safety for us beyond Kosseir.

We had a dreadful experience passing the village of Sarrar. The smell
from the cemetery was so awful that even the Bedouin had to hold their
noses for many yards on both sides of it.

The village of Sarrar only consists of three large mud houses and a good
many bamboo shanties.

We were amused by a man whom we met alone, his terror of us was so great.
As we approached he lit his match, got his gun all ready, and left the
path seeking cover, but our people shouted: 'What good can you do? You
are one and we are many, and besides we mean you no harm!' so he came
forward, and there was great laughter both at and with him.

Raida is a large fishing village. Certainly there are strange eaters in
these parts. The Ichthyophagoi here prefer their fish generally in a
decayed state; and one of our Hamoumi soldiers had a treat of lizards,
which he popped in the fire to roast and ate whole.

We did not get much farther eastward that year, only two hours farther to
Rakhmit, a very uninteresting journey, but we were buoyed up by hopes of
some very delightful inscriptions that were described to us: one on the
way to Mosaina, to which we were supposed to be going that day, and
another in a cave, quite close to Mosaina. When we reached the river-bed
at Rakhmit, a spot in the mountains about five miles off was pointed out;
so after very much and long consultation with the aged sultan, we decided
it would be safer to camp where we were, see Mosaina next day, and
return to the same camp. However, when we were quite prepared to go the
five miles, it appeared that it might be dangerous. It was in the country
of no one then present, so we could have no _siyara_, and the old Hamoumi
chief said it would be bad for his sons, the hostages; so this plan had
to be abandoned.

Afterwards it was revealed to us that the cave is twenty miles from
Mosaina on the akaba, that there is no water near, no village at Mosaina,
no means of getting forage; so, as in that case farther progress was
useless, as well as impossible, we proposed to return the following day
to Kosseir, helping ourselves, if possible, with a boat from Raida.

It took us three hours to return to Raida, where an old seyyid took us
into his house and led us to a little clean room, 10 feet by 6 feet, and
there we settled down on the matting to rest and have our luncheon till
one o'clock, when we started, leaving the baggage camels to follow.

How thankful we were that, tastes differing, there were people in Arabia
who could look upon us as harmless and pleasant individuals. Everyone had
been nice to us, and we had had no difficulties whatever, and been
treated like human beings, just because we had not that horrid little
Saleh Hassan with us. The more civil people were to us the more enraged
we were with him, and I think if the servants had carried out their
threats against him when he should be on the dhow, the masters would not
have interfered.

It is fifteen miles from Raida to Kosseir. We were quite determined,
after the severe lesson we had had two days previously, to go to windward
of Sarrar. When we passed a well there I was requested to detach myself
from the party and go and let some women see me, and then the soldiers
begged that I would show off Basha prancing about that the women might
see that I did not want holding on, and finally they shouted 'Shilloh!'
to make him gallop away, amid screams of delight. I dare say these women
had never seen a horse. The sultans at Sheher had only three. We had
already sent Zubda back to Al Koton. The soldiers were very fond of
terrifying my horse, when passing a village and I wanted to stare about,
to show him off.

In avoiding Sarrar we got into great difficulties with the loose sand. We
went over it half a mile, and when we reached the sea there was so narrow
a strip of firm sand that, our animals being too much afraid of the
rising tide, we had to make our way up again. We reached Kosseir about
half-past five, warmly welcomed by Don Quixote, who gave us coffee while
awaiting our _kafila_, which was, to our surprise and delight, only half
an hour behind us, not having been fighting with the sand.

We were made more angry with Saleh by finding that water, wood, forage,
eggs, fish, and a little milk had been prepared for us beforehand. My
night was disturbed by the old Hamoumi chief choosing the eave of our
tent just beside my ear to say his prayers. Quiet nights, however, must
not be expected in Ramazan.

Next morning we were off at eight, of course dragging the poor wizened
old gentleman with us on a camel, two hours (6 miles) up the Wadi Shirwan
to see a ruin at the village of Maaber, where there is a running stream.

At the entrance to Wadi Shirwan the ruins are situated. They consist of a
large fort, circular on one side and about 40 feet in diameter, built of
round, water-worn stones set in very strong cement, dating from the same
period as those at Ghail Babwazir.

Evidently the mediæval inhabitants of Arabia chose these two points for
good water. Tobacco is also grown here, besides other things. The water
is really good and sweet.

We behaved with the greatest temerity in entering these ruins; no one now
living had been in before we did. The building is the abode of _jinni_,
and no one who goes in is ever able to come out by the same door. We were
so fortunate as to be able to do so. On the road we saw a stone, and were
told that a _jinni_ (or _ghinni_ as they are called in Southern Arabia)
was bringing this to help to build the fort when he was met by another
_jinni_ who said, 'Why do you bring stones when the fort is finished?' so
he dropped it in disgust.

_Jinni_ are able to get sufficiently near to heaven to hear the
conversation of the angels, and there are various incantations to make
them reveal the whereabouts of hidden treasures. One called _darb el
mendel_, carried on with a handkerchief, is much in vogue.

Maaber nestles under a big pointed rock on the highland, which sticks up
aloft, and to which we heard that the Kafirs used to tie their horses.
Bottles were stuck into the graves as ornaments, and built on to the tops
of buildings.

We rested beneath a b'dom-tree, which showered its little fruits on us,
and made as many inquiries as possible in a crowd of starers who were all
very polite.

We heard that Wadi Shekhavi is the end of Wadi Mosila. It runs parallel
to, and is almost as large as, the Wadi Hadhramout. Ghail Benzamin is the
principal town in it.

At last, feeling that our work and our researches were as thoroughly done
as in our power lay, we arose and turned our faces toward England.



CHAPTER XVII

COASTING WESTWARD BY SEA


Though we rose so early next morning that we dressed by candle-light, we
were not up nearly so early as Imam Sharif, who, being sleepy and misled
by a candle in our tent, aroused his followers and made them light their
fire for breakfast at midnight. Kind old Don Quixote and many others
walked with us a mile to Ras Dis, where we were to embark; this is the
harbour of the town of Kosseir. Ras Dis is not near Dis, as Ras Bagashwa
runs out between them. Probably before the interstices of the black rock
were filled up there may have been a decent harbour for small craft. Two
forts guard the way to Ras Dis, and near it are two wali's or sheikh's
tombs which afford perfectly safe store-places to the fishermen. All
their gear, anchors, ropes, sails, wood, fish, and what not are heaped
round the tombs, and none dare touch them.

Having been carried into a filthy boat, we scrambled into a _sambouka_
crammed and stuffed with the baggage--eight passengers, including the
Afghan interpreter.

There was a little deck 3 feet by 4 feet at its widest, where Imam Sharif
and I were packed, the steersman sitting in a little angle, leaning
against my gaiters. About ten o'clock Matthaios began to make some tea,
but soon had to retreat to the bow very sick. My husband finished this
cookery, and from a small hole in the baggage handed me what little food
he could reach, but soon everyone was expanded over the baggage, no one
having room for his legs. Imam Sharif was soon a wretched heap, and not
an appetite was left among our party but my husband's and mine. We had
nothing but a little _halwa_ (a sweetmeat) and no water, till the end of
our eighteen hours' voyage, so we rather envied the others who seemed
unconscious of the smells of cockroaches, bilge-water, and fish oil, as
well as of the great heat, for we had no awning.

The wind was favourable, but there was little of it, and fearing it would
fail entirely we planned to land, taking food, which would then be
attainable, and the one blanket we each had kept out, not knowing how
long we should be at sea, and lie in the sand, but we wasted an hour of
great trouble in a vain attempt. The shore was too shelving, so we
dressed ourselves in our blankets and settled down to catch bugs. We had
seen few by day, but by night they kept us busy, for they swarmed over us
with their descendants and their remote ancestors.

Once we saw some operations which made us think we were going to tack,
but to our dismay we perceived the captain hovering over his bedding, and
found that he had put the ship to bed, and we were meant to be violently
rocked in the cradle of the deep till morning; but he was firmly reasoned
with, and at two in the morning, worn and weary, we were borne ashore at
Sheher.

It being Ramazan, we easily found the Indian cook of the house, and asked
for some boiled eggs, but not till four did we get some very nasty fried
ones and tea, and then lay down on the floor anyhow, to fight with
mosquitoes and fleas, our baggage and beds being still on board; regular
quarantine measures were carried out as regards bugs when it came. I felt
too weak to stir till luncheon was brought me at twelve, there having
been some little difficulty as regarded breakfast.

The horse, donkeys, camels, _siyara_ people, and soldiers all came in by
land next day.

A period of waiting and hoping for a ship to take us to Aden now set in.
Our annoyances were rather aggravated by some Indian converts to
Mohammedanism being taught their prayers well within our hearing.

A promising ship was said to have gone to Hami for water, and anxiously
we turned our eyes in that direction for three days, till we were in such
desperation that my husband went down to find any small boat to take us
as far as Makalla, but the ship had come at last and we were able to
leave.

Hussein Mia and Ghalib Mia took leave of us with much friendliness and
hopes of seeing us the following year, which they did.

Mia is a kind of title.

We were told that the captain had gone on board with the baggage, but we
found it covering a vast expanse of sand, live hens, dead foxes, swords,
spears, and other strange things making it look very unlike Christian
baggage. We also had quantities of cocoanuts, that we might have some
palatable water on the voyage. A bargain was made with much shouting in a
great crowd, to put us and all belonging to us on board for four dollars.

I was quietly looking on when a man came suddenly behind me and whipped
me up, seated me on his shoulder and carried me off into the sea. It
required all my balance to keep safe when so suddenly seized. I did not
know I was being scrambled for as the lightest person. I hate that way of
being carried, with my five fingers digging into the skull of my bearer,
with one of his wrists placed lightly across my ankles, while he holds up
his clothes with the other; and I do not like being perched between the
elbows of two men, whose hands are clasped far beneath me, while I
clutch their dirty throats. It is much nicer to be carried in both arms
like a baby.

Our ship lay tossing so far out that we had to be put in a good large
boat first and as I sat amidships I was well ducked when those who had
been pushing the boat off all jumped in, shedding sheets of water from
their garments.

Our ship did not look smart; on the contrary it looked so untidy that it
had a kind of mossy, woolly, licheny appearance. There was no ladder, so
it was rather hard to climb up the side in that uneasy sea. My first care
was to scramble up ropes and various other things to survey the little
deck, sure that Saleh had taken care of himself. There were two charpoys
or stretchers tied one to each side of this little deck, and we
determined that Imam Sharif should have one, and the 'botanist' the
other. Saleh's things were settled on the latter. I at once ousted them
and lay down till the proper occupant appeared, looking evidently anxious
to assume a recumbent position.

Saleh then put himself and his property in a place which I told him was
inconvenient as no one could pass.

'I only stay here a little while,' he said. 'Mr. Lunt has my place.'

'Your place!' I said. 'How did you get a place?'

'I told the _Nakhoda_ to keep that place for me.'

I said, 'Had you first asked Mr. Bent where he wished you to sleep or
where he wished Mr. Lunt to sleep?'

'No.'

'Well remember that Mr. Bent is master on board this ship and I am
mistress,' I said. 'I have given that bed to Mr. Lunt, and you can go
_there_, and as you have a habit of spitting on floors and carpets you
will now spit overboard or you will move.' So Saleh began to take a back
seat. He was positively afraid to be among the servants.

Any excitement at sea is welcome, so we now began to take a great
interest in him and Mahmoud. We were quite anxious as to whether they
would be sea-sick or not. You might wonder why we cared, but this is the
reason.

If they were sea-sick their fast of Ramazan would be broken, and all
their previous fasting would go for nothing; they would gain nothing by
going on with it, and might eat as much as they liked.

All the Indian party had taken advantage of the excuse of travelling to
eat as usual.

Mahmoud soon broke down and rejoiced greatly thereafter, but Saleh
reached the end of the day and his evening meal in safety, but his fast
came to an abrupt termination early in the morning.

Does it not seem a wildly funny idea that putting food into your mouth by
the back door (the throat) involuntarily should be quite as bad for your
soul as voluntarily putting it in at the front door (the lips)?

We started at half-past five and reached Makalla at sunrise the following
morning, Easter Sunday, March 25. Our arrival being announced, the Sultan
Manassar invited us to see him, and he and his ugly sons were all dressed
up again, and we had tea and _halwa_. Saleh kept running about trying to
whisper to all the wazirs. My husband kept him under his eye as much as
possible, but once he escaped and ran back and begged the sultan for a
box of honey and a carpet. He only got the former, so he returned and was
very abusive to my husband, saying it was his fault; I told him he could
say what he liked at Aden, but had better be quiet as long as he was on
the sea with us.

My husband graciously gave permission to ship a cargo of frankincense,
and the ship was filled with delightfully sweet, clean bales, on which
our luggage and men could be accommodated, and we were glad of the
ballast.

We had three more days and nights on the sea, and during the last had a
miserable fear of a calm; but at last a fine wind sprang up and we
whizzed along, all sitting up in our beds, loudly rejoicing with one
another on the prospects of our arrival at the haven where we would be,
which took place at sunrise on March the 27th.

I am thankful to say that the work of our expedition was successful in
all its branches; but what we should have done without Imam Sharif, Khan
Bahadur, I cannot tell. He was the greatest help to us in every way, and
it was an untold comfort to have one brave person as anxious to get on as
ourselves. I have always been sorry that the map was made on so small a
scale--eight miles to an inch. It would have been more useful to future
travellers had it been larger. The spelling had, of course, to be
according to the ancient Indian method, and not that now recommended by
the Royal Geographical Society, to which I have adhered myself.

The year before, when we were embarking for England on board a
Messageries steamer at Aden, we noticed an Indian gentleman standing in
the angle of the landing of the ladder to let us and our baggage pass,
and little we thought how well we should know that Indian gentleman, and
he on his side had no inkling how far he would travel, two successive
years, with all that baggage around him; it would have been so
interesting could we have guessed. Imam Sharif was returning from
Zanzibar, and leaving that ship to tranship for India.

[Illustration: MAP OF

DHOFAR AND THE GARA-RANGE.

From a Survey by Imam Sharif,

Khan Bahadur.

TO ILLUSTRATE THE EXPLORATIONS OF

M^r. J. THEODORE BENT.

_Stanford's Geog.^l Estab.^t, London_

London: Smith, Elder & Co.]



DHOFAR AND THE GARA MOUNTAINS



CHAPTER XVIII

MERBAT AND AL HAFA


After returning from our expedition to the Hadhramout in 1894 we
determined the next winter to attempt the ambitious adventure of making a
journey overland right across Southern Arabia from Maskat to Aden. On our
way we hoped to revisit the Hadhramout, to explore those portions which
we had been compelled to leave unvisited the former winter, and so to
fill up the large blank space which still exists on the map of this
country. Experience taught us that our plan was impracticable; the only
possible way of making explorations in Arabia is to take it piecemeal, to
investigate each district separately, and by degrees to make a complete
map by patching together the results of a number of isolated expeditions.
Indeed, this is the only satisfactory way of seeing any country, for on a
great through journey the traveller generally loses the most interesting
details.

My husband again, to our great satisfaction, had Imam Sharif, Khan
Bahadur, placed at his disposal; and, as the longest way round was the
quickest and best, we determined to make our final preparations in India,
and meet him and his men at Karachi.

We left England at the beginning of November 1894, and at Aden, where we
were obliged to tranship, we picked up our camp furniture, which we had
deposited there on our return from Wadi Hadhramout.

Imam Sharif came on board to meet us at Karachi, and we also received a
letter inviting us to stay at Government House, where we were most kindly
entertained by Mrs. Pottinger, in the absence of her brother, Mr. James,
the Commissioner in Scinde. This was very delightful to us, as we had
already stayed in Reynolds's Hotel when on our way to Persia.

Matthaios had absolutely refused to come with us for fear we should carry
out our great wish of going to Bir Borhut, and indeed the very name of
'_Aravia_' was odious to him. Of course, being in India, we had to take
two men in his place, and accordingly engaged two Goanese, half
Portuguese: one Diego S. Anna Lobo, a little old man, as butler, and the
other, Domingo de Silva, as cook. The former could speak English and
Portuguese; the latter neither, only Hindustani. We took them back to
India with us the following spring, keeping Lobo as our servant during
the time of our stay there.

We had a calm and pleasant voyage of three days to Maskat with Captain
Whitehead on the B.I.S.N. steamer _Chanda_, arriving just in time to
escape a violent storm, which lasted for days, and in its commencement
prevented our landing at the usual place. We had to go round a little
promontory. There was also a good deal of rain, which cooled the air
considerably.

We were the guests of Colonel Hayes Sadler, in his hospitable Residency,
and he interested himself kindly in our affairs, giving us all the help
he could in our arrangements, as did also Dr. Jayaker, the Indian doctor.

We intended first of all to penetrate into the regions of the Jebel
Akhdar, and then to pass through the territory of the Jenefa tribe to
Ghubbet el Hashish, which takes its name not from land grass, but from
seaweed. There a boat was to meet us and take us westward; in this way we
should avoid a stretch of desert which the Bedouin themselves shrink
from, and which is impassable to Europeans. We could not procure any
information about our journey to the Jebel Akhdar, as it does not appear
to be the fashion at Maskat to go inland. However, both our old friend
the Sultan Feysul and Colonel Sadler took infinite trouble to arrange for
our journey; camels were hired and a horse for me, and the sheikhs of the
tribes through whose country we should have to pass were summoned to
escort us.

Owing, however, to the illness of some of our party, we were at the last
moment obliged to defer the expedition; though we had made all the
preparations we could for the great cold we should have to encounter, the
change of climate would have been injurious to Imam Sharif and two of his
men. As events proved it was fortunate we did so, for the insurrection
(which I have already mentioned) broke out almost immediately afterwards,
and in all probability we should not have returned alive to relate our
experiences.

We next determined to go by sea to Merbat, and thence explore the Dhofar
and Gara mountains. The sultan offered us the use of his _batil_, which
was preparing to go to Zenghiber, as they call Zanzibar. We found on
inspection that it was a small decked boat, with a very light upper deck
at the stern, supported by posts. They were busy smearing the ship with
fish oil. We were told it might be ready in three days, and we might take
seven days or more over the voyage. However, we were delivered from this
long voyage, for, unexpectedly, a steamer arrived most opportunely for
us.

As it was not the pilgrim season, and as there was no cholera about, we
ventured on this steamer, which is one of those that ply under the
Turkish flag between the Persian Gulf and Jedda. The captain was an
Armenian: in fact, all the steamers belonging to Turkey are run by
Armenian companies and manned by Armenian sailors. The captain of the
_Hodeida_ was not too exorbitant in his demand of 500 rupees to drop our
party at Merbat. The steward could fortunately speak Greek.

We left Maskat on Monday, December 17, and had a very calm voyage, but
this being our fifth steamer since we left home, we were anxious for a
little dry land journeying.

We saw the high mountains all Tuesday, but nothing on Wednesday after
early morning. The coast recedes and becomes low where the desert comes
down to the sea. We passed the Kouria Mouria Islands in the night. They
are inhabited by the Jenefa tribe, who pursue sharks, swimming on
inflated skins. On Thursday we passed very curious scenery, a high akaba,
just like the Hadhramout, in the background, and for about a mile between
this and the sea a volcanic mass of rocks and peaks and crags of many
hues. After passing this we were at our destination, and at three o'clock
in the afternoon we left the steamer to land at Merbat. We were conveyed
to the shore in three boats, one of which was called 'el liebot.' It is
only fair that the English who have borrowed so many nautical terms from
the Orientals, should now in their turn provide the Arabian name for a
boat. Cutters and jolly-boats have taken their names from 'kattira' and
'jahlibot.'

Merbat, which is sixty-four miles from Maskat, is the first point of the
Dhofar district after the long stretch of desert has been passed. It is a
wretched little spot consisting of some fifty houses and a few Bedou
huts, with about two hundred inhabitants. It is built on a tongue of
land, which affords shelter for Arab dhows during the north-east monsoon.
The water supply is from a pool of brackish water.

The excitement caused by the first arrival of a steamer was intense, and
tiny craft with naked Bedouin soon crowded round us; after entrusting us
to their tender mercies our Armenian captain steamed away, and it was not
without secret misgivings that we landed amongst the wild-looking
inhabitants who lined the shore.

We imagined we were being very kindly received when they pointed out the
largest building in the place as our habitation, and my husband, Imam
Sharif, our interpreter Hassan, and I joyfully hastened thither.

Unfortunately we had no recommendation to the head-man of this place, and
he evidently distrusted us, for after taking us to a fort built of mud
bricks, which offered ample accommodation for our party, he flatly
refused to allow us to have our baggage or our servants therein.

After entering a kind of guard-room, we had to plunge to the right into
pitchy darkness and stumble along, stretching out our hands like blind
men, each taken by the shoulders and pushed and shoved by a roundabout
way to a dark inner staircase, where we emerged into the light on some
roofs.

They wanted us to stay where we were, but not wishing to remain without
conveniences, we succeeded in getting between them and the door, and then
found our way out of the building and rejoined our servants and our
baggage on the beach. We flourished our letter to Wali Suleiman in his
face; we expostulated, threatened, and cajoled, and passed a whole
miserable hour by the shore, seated on our belongings under the blazing
afternoon sun, watching our steamer gradually disappearing in the
distance. Hemmed in by Bedouin, who stared at us as if we had come from
the moon, exceedingly hot, hungry, and uncomfortable, we passed a very
evil time indeed, speculating as to what would be the result of the
conclave of the old head-men; but at last they approached us in a more
friendly spirit, begged our pardon, and reinstated us in the fort with
our bag and baggage, and were as civil as they could be. To our dying day
we shall never know what caused us this dilemma. Did they really think we
had come to seize their fort (which we afterwards heard was the case),
and interfere with their frankincense monopoly? Or did they think we had
come to look into the question of a large Arab dhow, which was flying the
French flag, and was beached on the shore, and which we had reason to
believe was conveying a cargo of slaves to one of the neighbouring
markets for disposal? Personally, I suspect the latter was the true
reason of their aversion to our presence, for the coast from here to
Maskat has a bad reputation in this respect, and just lately Arab
slave-dhows have been carrying on their trade under cover of protection
obtained from France at Obok and Zanzibar. The inhabitants have plaited
hair and knobkerries. I believe they belong to the Jenefa tribe.

Finding Merbat so uncongenial an abode, with no points of interest, and
with a malarious-looking swamp in its vicinity, and not being able to
obtain camels or escort for a journey inland, we determined only to pass
one night there, and after wandering about in search of interests which
did not exist, we came to terms with the captain of a most filthy baggala
to take us along the coast to Al Hafa, the residence of Wali Suleiman,
without whose direct assistance we plainly saw that nothing could be done
about extending our expedition into the interior. It was only forty miles
to Al Hafa, but, owing to adverse winds, it took us exactly two days to
perform this voyage, and our boat was one of the dirtiest of the kind we
have ever travelled on. In our little cabin in the stern the smell of
bilge-water was almost overpowering, and every silver thing we had about
us turned black with the sulphureous vapours. These pungent odours were
relieved from time to time by burning huge chafing dishes of
frankincense, a large cargo of which was aboard for transport to Bombay
after we had been deposited at Al Hafa. One of the many songs our sailors
sang when changing the flapping sails was about frankincense, so we tried
to imagine that we were having a pleasant experience of the country we
were about to visit; and even in its dirt and squalor an Arab dhow is a
picturesque abode, with its pretty carvings and odd-shaped bulwarks. We
were twenty-five souls on board, and our captain and his crew being
devout Mohammedans, we had plenty of time and opportunity for studying
their numerous prayers and ablutions.

The plain of Dhofar, along which we were now coasting, is quite an
abnormal feature in this arid coast. It is the only fertile stretch
between Aden and Maskat. It is formed of alluvial soil washed down from
the Gara mountains; there is abundance of water very near the surface,
and frequent streams make their way down to the sea, so that it is green.
The great drawback to the country is the want of harbours; during the
north-east monsoons dhows can find shelter at Merbat, and during the
south-west monsoons at Risout, but the rest of the coast is provided with
nothing but open roadsteads, with the surf always rolling in from the
Indian Ocean.

The plain is never more than nine miles wide, and at the eastern end,
where the mountains were nearer to the sea, it is reduced to a very
narrow strip, a grand exception to the long line of barren waste which
forms the Arabian frontage to the Indian Ocean, and which gets narrower
and narrower as the mountains approach the sea at Saihut. Tall cocoanut
palms adorn it in clusters, and long stretches of bright green fields
refresh the eye; and, at frequent intervals, we saw flourishing villages
by the coast. Tobacco, cotton, Indian corn, and various species of grain
grow here in great abundance, and in the gardens we find many of the
products of India flourishing, viz. the plantain, the papya, mulberries,
melons, chillis, brinjols, and fruits and vegetables of various
descriptions. We anchored for some hours off one of these villages, and
paid our toll of dates to the Bedouin who came off to claim them, as is
customary all along this coast, every dhow paying this toll in return for
the privilege of obtaining water when they want it.

The Gara mountains are now one of the wildest spots in wild Arabia; owing
to the disastrous blood feuds amongst the tribe and the insecurity of
travel, they had never previously been penetrated by Europeans: all that
was known of the district was the actual coast-line. Exciting rumours had
reached the ears of Colonel Miles, a former political agent at Maskat,
concerning lakes and streams, and fertility unwonted for Arabia, which
existed in these mountains, and our appetites were consequently whetted
for their discovery.

In ancient times this was one of the chief sources of the time-honoured
frankincense trade, which still maintains itself here even more than in
the Hadhramout. It is carried on by the Bedouin of the Gara tribe, who
bring down the odoriferous gum from the mountains on camels. About 9,000
cwt. of it is exported to Bombay annually. Down by the coast at Al Hafa
there is a square enclosure or bazaar where piles of frankincense may
still be seen ready for exportation, miniature successors of those piles
of the tears of gum from the tree-trunks which are depicted on the old
Egyptian temple at Deir al Bahari as one of the proceeds of Queen
Hatasou's expeditions to the land of Punt.

The actual libaniferous country is, perhaps, now not much bigger than the
Isle of Wight, and in its physical appearance not unlike it, cut off from
the rest of the world by a desert behind and an ocean in front. Probably
in ancient days the frankincense-bearing area was not much more
extensive. Claudius Ptolemy, the anonymous author of the 'Periplus,'
Pliny, Theophrastus, and a little later on the Arabian geographers, speak
of it, and from their descriptions there is no difficulty in fixing the
limits of it, and its ruined towns are still easily identified.

After much tacking and flapping of sails we at last reached Al Hafa,
where Wali Suleiman had his castle, only a stone's throw from the beach.
Our landing was performed in small, hide-covered boats specially
constructed for riding over the surf, and was not completed without a
considerable wetting to ourselves and baggage. After so many preliminary
discomforts a cordial welcome from the wali was doubly agreeable. He
placed a room on the roof, spread with carpets, at our disposal, and he
furnished our larder with a whole cow, and every delicacy at his command.
The cow's flesh was cut into strips and festooned about in every
direction, to dry it for our journey. Our room was, for Arabia,
deliciously cool and airy, being approached by a ladder, and from our
roof we enjoyed pleasant views over the fertile plain and the Gara
mountains, into which we had now every hope of penetrating. We looked
down into his courtyard below and saw there many interesting phases of
Arab life.

Al Hafa is 640 miles from Maskat in one direction and 800 from Aden in
the other; it is, therefore, about as far as possible from any civilised
place. Nominally it is under the sultan of Oman, and I may here
emphatically state that the southern coast of Arabia has absolutely
nothing to do with Turkey--from Maskat to Aden there is not a single
tribe paying tribute to, or having any communication with, the Ottoman
Porte. Really Al Hafa and the Dhofar were ruled over autocratically by
Wali Suleiman, who was sent out there about eighteen years before as
governor, at the request of the feud-torn inhabitants, by Sultan Tourki
of Maskat. In his small way Wali Suleiman was a man of great capacity; a
man who has made history, and could have made more if his sphere had been
larger. In his youth he was instrumental in placing Tourki on the throne
of Oman, and after a few years of stern application to business he
brought the bellicose families of the Gara tribe under his power; and his
influence was felt far into the interior, even into the confines of Nejd.
With a handful of Arabs and a badly armed regiment of slave origin he had
contrived to establish peace and comparative safety throughout the Gara
mountains and, thanks to him, we were able to penetrate their fastnesses.
Wali Suleiman was a stern, uncompromising ruler, feared and respected,
rather than loved.

The wali kept all his prisoners in the courtyard. When we were there he
had twelve, all manacled, and reposing on grass mats at night. These were
wicked Bedouin from the mountains, prisoners taken in a recent war he had
had with the Mahri tribe, the _casus belli_ being a find of ambergris
which the Mahri had appropriated, though it had been washed up on the
Dhofar coast. One prisoner, a murderer, whose imprisonment was for two
years, was chained to a log of wood, and he laid his mat bed in a large
stone sarcophagus, brought from the neighbouring ruins of the ancient
capital of the frankincense country, and really intended for a trough.
Another, convicted of stealing his master's sword and selling it to the
captain of a dhow, had his feet attached to an iron bar, which made his
locomotion exceedingly painful. A mollah prisoner was, owing to the
sanctity of his calling, unfettered, and he led the evening prayers, and
on most nights--for want of something better to do, I suppose--these
prisoners of Wali Suleiman prayed and sang into the small hours of the
morning. Day by day we watched these unfortunate men from the roof, and
thought we had never seen so unholy a set of men, according to what we
heard; they did not look so. Some were morose, and chewed the cud of
their discontent in corners; the younger and better-looking ones were
gallant, and flirted with the slave girls, helping them to draw up
buckets from the well in the centre of the courtyard; the active-minded
cut wood for the household, and walked about doing odd jobs, holding up
the iron bar which separated their feet with a rope as they shuffled
along, or played with the wali's little boy, five years of age, who
rambled about among them.

Goats, kids, cocks, and hens, also occupied this courtyard, and the big,
white she-ass, the only representative of the equine race as far as we
could see in Dhofar, on which Wali Suleiman makes his state journeys to
the various villages in his dominions along the coast, and which he
kindly lent to me once when we went to visit the ruins.

The ladies of the wali's harem paid me frequent visits, and brought me
presents of fruit and embarrassing plates of food, and substances to dye
my teeth red (tamboul leaves and lime), but they were uninteresting
ladies, and their conversational powers limited to the discussion of the
texture of dresses and the merits of European underclothing. On the very
first morning they appeared before I was up--that is about sunrise. As I
had put them off the evening before, I dared not do so again. My husband
sprang out of his bed and got out of their way. I managed to put on a
jacket sitting up in bed, and then, finding time allowed, a skirt, and
had just got my hair combed down when in they trooped. I knew my shoes
and stockings would never be missed, so I felt quite ready for the visit.
They wore _bourkos_ on their faces, and had on a great deal of coarse
jewellery with mock pearls and bad turquoises. Whenever they chose to
come my husband had to depart, and I do not think he liked these
interruptions.

We were much interested in the male members of the wali's family. His
eldest son was paralysed and bedridden, and he had adopted as heir to his
position in Dhofar a nephew, who lived in a separate wing of the castle,
and had his separate harem establishment. Besides these the wali had two
dear little boys, one of twelve and the other of eight, who constantly
paid us visits, and with whom we established a close friendship. Salem,
the elder, was a fair, delicate-looking boy, the son of a Georgian slave
who was given to Wali Suleiman by Sultan Tourki of Oman. Some years ago
she ran away with her boy to Bombay, but was restored to her husband, and
now has been sent as a punishment to Zanzibar; she is a servant in the
house of one of the princesses there. Salem would often tell us that his
mother was coming back to him in a year or two, but we thought
differently.

The tragedy connected with little Muoffok, the younger boy, a bright,
dear little fellow, very much darker than his brother, in fact nearly
black, is far more heartrending. About two years before, his mother, also
a slave, an African, was convicted of misconduct, and on her was visited
the extremest penalty with which the Arab law can punish a faithless
wife. In the presence of a large assemblage, the unfortunate woman was
buried up to the waist in the sand and stoned to death.

The poor little motherless fellows were constantly on the go, rushing
hither and thither, playing with and petted by all; at one time they
amused themselves with the prisoners in the courtyard, at another time
they teased the Gara sheikhs who sat in the long entrance corridor, and
then they came to torment us, until we gave then some trifle, which they
forthwith carried off in triumph to show it to everybody. Both the little
boys wore the large silver and gold daggers of Oman round their waists,
and powder-flasks similarly decorated hung on their backs; and when
dressed in their best silk robes on Friday, they were the most fantastic
little fellows one could wish to see.

Wali Suleiman was, as I have said, an austere and unlovable man, but he
was the man for his position: taciturn and of few words, but these always
to the point. Before he would permit us to go forth and penetrate into
the recesses of the Gara mountains, he summoned the heads of all the
different families into which the tribe is divided to Al Hafa, and gave
us into their charge, we agreeing to pay for their escort, their
protection, and the use of their camels a fixed sum _per diem_ in Maria
Theresa dollars, the only coin recognised in the country.

Such palavering there was over this stupendous piece of diplomacy! Wali
Suleiman and the Gara sheikhs sat for hours in solemn conclave in a
palm-thatched barn about fifty yards distant from the castle, which takes
the place of a parliament house in the kingdom of Dhofar. The wali, his
nephew, and Arab councillors smoked their _narghilehs_ complacently,
whilst the Gara Bedouin took whiffs at their little pipes, which they cut
out of soft limestone that hardens in the air, and all drank endless cups
of coffee served by slaves in huge coffee-pots with long, bird-like
beaks, and we looked on at this conference, which was to decide our fate,
from our roof, with no small amount of impatience.

Before starting for the mountains we wandered hither and thither over the
plain of Dhofar for some days, visiting sites of ruins, and other places
of interest, and greatly admired the rich cultivation we saw around us,
and the capacity of this plain for producing cotton, indigo, tobacco, and
cereals. Water is on the surface in stagnant pools, or easily obtainable
everywhere by digging shallow wells which are worked by camels, sometimes
three together, and so well trained, that at the end of the walk they
turn by themselves as soon as they hear the splash of the water into the
irrigation channel, and then they walk back to fill the skin bucket
again. The cocoanut-palm grows admirably here, and we had many refreshing
draughts of the water contained in the nuts during our hot rides; and in
pools beneath the trees the fibre of the nuts is placed to rot for making
ropes, giving out an odour very similar to that of the flax-pits in the
north of Ireland.

Between Capes Risout and Merbat we found the sites of ruined towns of
considerable extent in no less than seven different points, though at the
two capes where now is the only anchorage, there are no ruins to be seen,
proving, as we afterwards verified for ourselves, that anchorage of a
superior nature existed in the neighbourhood in antiquity, which has
since become silted up, but which anciently must have afforded ample
protection for the boats which came for the frankincense trade. At Takha,
as we shall presently see, there was a very extensive and deep harbour,
running a considerable distance inland, which with a little outlay of
capital could easily be restored.

After a close examination of these ruined sites, there can be no doubt
that those at spots called now Al Balad and Robat, about two miles east
of the wali's residence, formed the ancient capital of this district. We
visited them on Christmas Day, and were much struck with their extent.
The chief ruins, those of Al Balad, are by the sea, around an acropolis
some 100 feet in height. This part of the town was encircled by a moat
still full of water, and in the centre, still connected with the sea, but
almost silted up, is a tiny harbour. The ground is covered with the
remains of Mohammedan mosques, and still more ancient Sabæan temples, the
architecture of which--namely, the square columns with flutings at the
four corners, and the step-like capitals--at once connects them
architecturally with the columns at Adulis on the Red Sea, those of
Koloe and Aksum in Abyssinia, and those described by M. Arnaud at Mariaba
in Yemen.

In some cases these are decorated with intricate patterns, one of which
is formed by the old Sabæan letters [Symbol: circle with dot in middle]
and X, which may possibly have some religious import. After seeing the
ruins of Adulis and Koloe and the numerous temples or tombs with four
isolated columns, no doubt can be entertained that the same people built
them.

As at Adulis and Koloe there were no inscriptions which could materially
assist us; this may be partly accounted for by the subsequent Mohammedan
occupation, when the temples were converted into mosques, but besides
this the nature of the stone employed at all these places would make it
very difficult to use it for inscribing letters: it is very coarse, and
full of enormous fossils.

This town of Al Balad by the sea is connected by a series of ruins with
another town two miles inland, now called Robat, where the ground for
many acres is covered with ancient remains; big cisterns and
water-courses are here cut in the rock, and standing columns of the same
architectural features are seen in every direction.

With the aid of Sprenger's 'Alte Geographie Arabiens,' the best
guide-book the traveller can take into this country, there is no
difficulty in identifying this ancient capital of the frankincense
country as the Manteion Artemidos of Claudius Ptolemy. This name
is obviously a Greek translation of the Sabæan for some well-known oracle
which anciently existed here, not far, as Ptolemy himself tells us, from
Cape Risout. This name eventually became Zufar, from which the modern
name of Dhofar is derived. In a.d. 618 the town was destroyed and Mansura
built, under which name the capital was known in early Mohammedan times.
Various Arab geographers also assist us in this identification. Yakut,
for example, tells us how the Prince of Zufar had the monopoly of the
frankincense trade, and punished with death any infringement of it. Ibn
Batuta says that 'half a day's journey east of Mensura is Alakhaf, the
abode of the Addites,' probably referring to the site of the oracle and
the last stronghold of the ancient cult.

Sprenger sums up the evidence of old writers by saying that the town of
Zufar and the later Mansura must undoubtedly be the ruins of Al Balad.
Thus, having assured ourselves of the locality of the ancient capital of
the frankincense country--for no other site along the plain has ruins
which will at all compare in extent and appearance with those of Al
Balad--we shall, as we proceed on our journey, find that other sites fall
easily into their proper places, and an important verification of ancient
geography and an old-world centre of commerce has been obtained.

The ruins at Al Balad and Robat were last inhabited during the Persian
occupation, about the time of the Crusades, 500 of the Hejira. They
utilised the old Himyaritic columns to build their mosques. Some of the
tombs have beautiful carving on them.

In the ruins of one temple the columns were elaborately carved with a
kind of _fleur-de-lis_ pattern, and the bases decorated with a floral
design, artistically interwoven.

I had dreadful difficulty with a photograph which I took of these
columns. I developed it at night, tormented by mosquitoes, and in the
morning it was all cracked and dried off its celluloid foundation. I put
it in alum, and it floated off half an inch too large in both directions.
If I had had a larger plate on which to mount it, it would have been an
easy enough job, but I had not, so I was obliged to work it down on to
the original plate with my thumbs. It took me seven solid hours, and I
had to be fed with two meals, for I could never move my thumbs nor eyes
off my work. I felt very proud that the cracks did not show when a
magic-lantern slide was made from it.

There was a great deal of vegetation among the ruins. Specially beautiful
was a very luxuriant creeper called by the inhabitants _asaleb_. It has a
luscious, large, pear-shaped red fruit with seeds which, when bitten, are
like pepper. It has large flowers, which are white at first, and then
turn pink.

On our way home from Al Balad we stopped to rest under some cocoa-palms,
and stones and other missiles were flung up by our guides, so the
cocoanuts came showering down in rather a terrifying way. The men then
stuck their _ghatrifs_ in the ground and banged the nuts on them, and
thus skinned them. Then they hacked at them with their swords till they
cut off the tops like eggs, and we enjoyed a good drink of the water.



CHAPTER XIX

THE GARA TRIBE


We left Al Hafa on December 29, after waiting six days for camels. There
was much difficulty in getting a sufficient quantity, and never before
had camels been hired in this manner. It was hard to make the people
understand what we meant or wished to do.

When at length the camels were assembled, they arrived naked and bare.
There were no ropes of any kind, or sticks to tie the baggage to, no
vestige of any sort of pack saddle, and we had to wait till the following
day before a few ropes could be procured. A good many of our spare
blankets had to be used as saddle-cloths, that is to say under the
baggage; ropes off our boxes, straps, raw-hide _riems_ that we had used
in South Africa, and in fact every available string had to be used to tie
it on, and the Bedouin even took the strings which they wear as fillets
round their hair, to tie round the camels' necks and noses to lead them.

There was great confusion over the loading, as all that ever yet had been
done to camels in that country was to tie a couple of sacks of
frankincense together and hang them on. The camels roared incessantly,
got up before they were ready, shook off their loads, would not kneel
down or ran away loaded, shedding everything or dragging things at their
heels. Sometimes their masters quite left off their work to quarrel
amongst themselves, bawling and shouting. Though we were ready at seven,
it was after midday before we were off, though Wali Suleiman himself
superintended the loading.

Camels in Dhofar are not very choice feeders, and have a predilection for
bones, and if they saw a bone near the path they would make for it with
an eager rush extremely disconcerting to the rider. Fish, too, is dried
for them and given them as food (called _kei_ by the Gara and _ohma_ by
the Arabs), as also is a cactus which grows in the mountains, which is
cut into sections for them. They are fine sturdy animals, and can go up
and down hill better than any camels I have ever seen. The fertile Gara
range is a great breeding place for camels, but as there is no commerce
or communication with the interior, the Bedouin do not make much use of
them themselves, but sell them to their neighbours, who come here to
purchase.

My husband, Imam Sherif and I had each a seat on a separate loaded camel,
with our _rezais_ or _lahafs_--thick cotton quilts--on the baggage; six
of the servants rode in pairs while one walked, all taking turns. We went
about eight miles westward the first day and considered it a wonderfully
good journey. We stopped at the edge of the plain, about half a mile from
the sea at Ras Risout, where some very dirty water was to be obtained
under a rock.

We passed some ruins with columns four miles west of Al Hafa at Aukad.

The approach to the mountains is up narrow gulleys full of
frankincense-trees.

We had a stormy and quarrelsome start next day, after a delay caused by
my husband's camel sitting down constantly and unexpectedly, and a
stoppage because two possible enemies being descried it was deemed
needful to wait till all the camels came up that we might keep together.
When they arrived we waited so long that we got up, told them that we did
not want to be kept all day on the road, and began to mount our camels,
saying we would return to the wali at Al Hafa. In the end they began
quarrelling with each other and made peace with us, and next we set off
to a place farther north than they had before intended, where there was
good water in a small amphitheatre of mountains. We went up a lovely
gorge with ferns, trees, and a running stream, as different as possible
to the aridity of the Hadhramout.

January 1, 1895, began with a wild-goose chase after some ruins
consisting of a circular wall of loose stones about a foot in height,
very likely only a sheep pen.

The camels were much quieter and the Bedouin very friendly. We only
travelled an hour and a half, having gone round some spurs and found
ourselves in a round valley, back to back with that we had left, and
about half a mile distant from our last camp. It was surrounded by some
very high and some lower hills, and we were just under a beetling cliff
with good water in a stream among bulrushes, reeds, and tropical
vegetation.

There was a Bedou family close by with goats; they sold us milk at an
exorbitant price and asked so much for a kid that we stuck to our tinned
meat.

The Gara, in whose country we were now, are a wild pastoral tribe of the
mountains, travelling over them hither and thither in search of food for
their flocks. They are troglodytes of a genuine kind and know no home
save their ancestral caves, with which this limestone range abounds; they
only live in rude reed huts like ant hills, when they come down to the
plain of Dhofar in the rainy season for pasturage. There is a curious
story connected with the Gara tribe, which probably makes them unique in
Arabia, and that is, that a few years ago they owned a white sheikh.
About the beginning of this century an American ship was wrecked on this
coast, and all the occupants were killed save the cabin boy, who was kept
as a slave. As years went on his superior ability asserted itself, and
gained for him in his later years the proud position of sheikh of all
the Garas. He lived, married, and died amongst them, leaving, I believe,
two daughters, who still live up in the mountains with their tribe. The
life and adventures of this Yankee boy must have been as thrilling and
interesting as any novelist could desire, and it is a great pity that the
white sheikh could not have been personally interviewed before his death,
which occurred over twenty years ago.

[Illustration: A GARA FORGE]

Sprenger (§ 449) supposes that the tribal name Gara or Kara corresponds
to the ancient Ascites whom Ptolemy places on this coast; but as the
Ascites were essentially a seafaring race, and the Gara are a pastoral
tribe of hill Bedouin, the connection between them does not seem very
obvious. It is more probable that they may correspond to the Carrei
mentioned in the campaign of Aelius Gallus as a race of Southern Arabia,
possessing, according to Pliny, the most fertile country.

As for weapons, the Gara have three, and every male of the tribe carries
them. One is a small shield (_gohb_) of wood or shark's skin, deep, and
with a wooden knob at the centre, so that when they are tired and want a
rest they can turn it round and utilise it as a stool; the second is a
flat iron sword with a wooden handle, actually made in Germany, for we
saw a dhow arrive from Zanzibar whilst we were at Dhofar which brought a
cargo of such swords; the Bedouin purchased them with avidity, and were
like children with a new toy for some time after, bending them across
their naked shoulders, and measuring them with their neighbours, to see
that they were all equally long; handing them safely about by their
blades. These swords are simply flat pieces of iron, made narrower at the
top to leave a place for the hand to grip them; there is no form of hilt
of any kind. They are used to cut down trees, split logs, scrape sticks,
and cut meat into joints. They have scabbards covered with white calico,
which are not always used, and there are no straps to attach the sword to
the person. The third weapon is a wooden throw-stick, made of a specially
hard wood called _miet_, which grows in the mountains; it is about a yard
long, and pointed at both ends; it is called _ghatrif_. The Gara are
wonderfully skilful at hurling it through the air, and use it both in
battle and for the chase with admirable precision. They have hardly any
guns amongst them, and what they have are only of the long matchlock
class; in fact, they do not seem to covet the possession of firearms, as
our friends in the Hadhramout did the year before. Every man clutched the
sword and ghatrif in one hand very tightly as there was nothing to
prevent their slipping, being both pointed.

The little pipes which they use are of limestone, soft when cut and
hardening in the air. They are more like cigarette holders than pipes.

The thorn-extractors used by the Gara tribe are like those used by most
of the other Bedouin: a knife, a sort of stiletto, and tweezers. They sit
down on the wayside and hack most heartily at their feet, and then prod
deeply with the stiletto before pulling the thorn out with the tweezers.

Certainly black skins are not so sensitive as white, and though, of
course, I do not approve of slavery, I do think a great deal of unneeded
pity has been wasted on slaves by people who took it for granted that
being men and brothers they had the same feelings as ourselves, either in
mind or body. No one with the same feelings as we could go so readily
through the burning cure (_kayya_). In Mashonaland I have seen people
walking on narrow paths only suited to people who have never learnt to
turn out their toes, all overhung with thorny bushes which not only tore
our clothes but our skins. The black people only had white scratches as
if they were made of morocco leather. If by any chance a knock really
brought a bit of flesh or skin off, and blood annoyed them by streaming
down, they would clutch up a handful of grass with a dry leaf or stick,
and wipe the wound out quite roughly.

We had never put ourselves into the charge of such wild people as the
Garas--far wilder in every way than the Bedouin of the Hadhramout,
inasmuch as they have far less contact with civilisation. The Bedou of
Southern Arabia is, to my mind, distinctly of an aboriginal race. He has
nothing to do with the Arabs, and was probably there just as he is now,
centuries before the Arabs found a footing in this country. He is every
bit as wild as the African savage, and not nearly so submissive to
discipline, and is endowed with a spirit of independence which makes him
resent the slightest approach to legal supervision.

When once away from the influence of Wali Suleiman, they paid no heed to
the orders of the soldiers sent by him, and during the time we were with
them we had the unpleasant feeling that we were entirely in their power.
They would not march longer than they liked; they would only take us
where they wished, and they were unpleasantly familiar; with difficulty
we kept them out of our tents, and if we asked them not to sing at night
and disturb our rest, they always set to work with greater vigour.

Seventeen of these men, nearly naked, armed as I have described, and
wild-looking in the extreme, formed our bodyguard, and if we attempted to
give an order which did not please them, they would independently reply,
'We are all sheikhs, we are not slaves.' At the same time they paid the
greatest deference to their chief, the old Sheikh Sehel, and expected us
to do the same.

Sheikh Sehel was the head of the Beit al Kathan, which is the chief of
the many families into which the Gara tribe is divided, and consequently
he was recognised as the chief of all the Garas. He was a wizened, very
avaricious-looking old man, who must have been close upon seventy, and
though he owned 500 head of cattle and 70 camels, he dressed his old
bones in nothing save a loin-cloth, and his matted grey locks were
adorned and kept together by a simple leather thong twisted several times
round his forehead. Despite his appearance he was a great man in his
limited sphere, and for the weeks that were to come we were completely in
his power.

He had the exclusive charge of me and my camel, which he led straight
through everything, regardless of the fact that I was on several
occasions nearly knocked off by the branches of trees; and if my seat was
uncomfortable, which it often was, as well as precarious--for we all sat
on luggage indifferently tied on--we had the greatest work to make Sheikh
Sehel stop to rectify the discomfort, for he was the sheikh of all the
Garas, as he constantly repeated, and his dignity was not to be trifled
with.

The seventeen sheikhs got half a dollar a day each for food, their slaves
a quarter.

Our expedition nearly came to an untimely end a very few days after our
start, owing, as my husband himself confessed, to a little indiscretion
on his part; but as the event serves to illustrate the condition of the
men we were with, I must not fail to recount it. During our day's march
we met with a large company of the Al Khathan family pasturing their
flocks and herds in a pleasant valley. Great greetings took place, and
our men carried off two goats for an evening feast. When night approached
they lit a fire of wood, and piled stones on the embers so as to form a
heated surface. On this they placed the meat, cut in strips with their
swords, the entrails, the heads, and every part of the animal, until
their kitchen looked like a ghastly sacrifice to appease the anger of
some deity. I must confess that the smell thereof was exceeding savoury,
and the picture presented by these hungry savages, gathered round the
lurid light of their kitchen, was weird in the extreme. Daggers were used
for knives, two fingers for forks, and we stood at a respectful distance
and watched them gorge; and so excited did they become as they consumed
the flesh, that one could almost have supposed them to be under the
influence of strong drink. Several friends joined them from the
neighbouring hills, and far into the night they carried on their wild
orgy, singing, shouting, and periodically letting off the guns which the
soldiers sent by Wali Suleiman brought with them.

We retired in due course to our tent and our beds, but not to sleep, for
in addition to their discordant songs, in rushing to and fro they would
catch in our tent-guys, and give us sudden shocks, which rendered sleep
impossible. Exasperated at this beyond all bearing, my husband at length
rushed out and caught a Bedou in the very act of tumbling over a guy.
Needless to say a well-placed kick sent him quickly about his business,
and after this silence was established and we got some repose.

Next morning, however, when we were prepared to start, we found our
Bedouin all seated in a silent, solemn phalanx, refusing to move. 'What
is the matter?' my husband asked, 'why are we not ready to start?' and
from amongst them arose a stern, freezing reply. 'You must return to Al
Hafa. We can travel no more with you, as Theodore has kicked Sheikh
Sehel,' for by this time they had become acquainted with our Christian
names, and never used any other appellative.

We felt that the aspect of affairs was serious, and that in the night
season he had been guilty of an indiscretion which might imperil both our
safety and the farther progress of our journey. So we affected to take
the matter as a joke, laughed heartily, patted Sheikh Sehel on the back,
said that we did not know who it was, and my husband entered into a
solemn compact that if they would not catch in our guys again, he would
never kick his majesty any more. It was surprising to see how soon the
glum faces relaxed, and how soon all ill-feeling was forgotten. In a very
few minutes life and bustle, chattering and good humour reigned in our
camp, and we were excellent friends again.

It was on the third day after leaving Al Hafa that we passed through one
of the districts where frankincense is still collected, in a narrow
valley running down from the mountains into the plain of Dhofar. The
valley was covered for miles with this shrub, the trunk of which, when
punctured, emits the odoriferous gum. We did not see any very large
trees, such as we did in Sokotra. The Bedouin choose the hot season, when
the gum flows most freely, to do this puncturing. During the rains of
July and August, and during the cool season, the trees are left alone.
The first step is to make an incision in the trunk, then they strip off a
narrow bit of bark below the hole, so as to make a receptacle in which
the milky juice, the _spuma pinguis_ of Pliny, can lodge and harden. Then
the incision is deepened, and after seven days they return to collect
what are, by that time, quite big tears of frankincense, larger than an
egg.

The shrub itself is a picturesque one, with a leaf not unlike an ash,
only stiffer; it has a tiny green flower, not red like the Sokotra
flowers, and a scaly bark. In all there are three districts in the Gara
mountains where the tree still grows; anciently, no doubt, it was found
in much larger quantities, but the demand for frankincense is now so very
limited that they take no care whatever of the trees. They only tap the
most promising ones, and those that grow farther west in the Mahri
country, as they produce an inferior quality, are not now tapped at all.

The best is obtained at spots called Hoye and Haski, about four days'
journey inland from Merbat, where the Gara mountains slope down into the
Nejd desert. The second in quality comes from near Cape Risout, and also
a little farther west, at a place called Chisen, near Rakhiout,
frankincense of a marketable quality is obtained, but that farther west
in the Mahri country is not collected now, being much inferior. The best
quality they call _leban lakt_, and the second quality _leban resimi_,
and about 9,000 cwt. are exported yearly and sent to Bombay. It is only
collected in the hot weather, before the rains begin and when the gum
flows freely, in the months of March, April, and May, for during the
rains the tracks on the Gara mountains are impassable. The trees belong
to the various families of the Gara tribe; each tree is marked and known
to its owner, and the product is sold wholesale to Banyan merchants, who
come to Dhofar just before the monsoons to take it away.

One must imagine that when this industry was at its height, in the days
when frankincense was valued not only for temple ritual but for domestic
use, the trade in these mountains must have been very active, and the
cunning old Sabæan merchants, who liked to keep the monopoly of this
drug, told wonderful stories of the phoenix which guarded the trees, of
the insalubrity of the climate and of the deadly vapours which came from
them when punctured for the gum. Needless to say, these were all false
commercial inventions, which apparently succeeded admirably, for the old
classical authors were exceedingly vague as to the localities whence
frankincense came. Merchants came in their ships to the port of Moscha,
which we shall presently visit, to get cargoes of the drug, but they
probably knew as little as we did of the interior of the hills behind,
and one of the reasons why Aelius Gallus was sent to Arabia by Augustus
on his unsuccessful campaign was 'to discover where Arabian gold and
frankincense came from.'

Early Arabian authors are far more explicit, and we gather from Makrisi,
Ibn Khaldun, and others, something more definite about Dhofar and the
frankincense trade, and of the prince of this district who had the
monopoly of the trade, and punished its infringement with death. These
writers, when compared with the classical ones, assist us greatly in
identifying localities.

The Portuguese knew about Dhofar and its productions, for Camoens, in his
Tenth Lusiad, 716, writes:

    'O'er Dhofar's plain the richest incense breathes.'

But not until Dr. Carter coasted along here some fifty years ago was it
definitely known that this was the chief locality in Arabia which
produced the drug.

Myrrh, too, grows in large quantities in the Gara range, and we obtained
specimens of it in close proximity to the frankincense-tree. The gum of
the myrrh-tree is much redder than ordinary gum Arabic, whereas the
frankincense gum is considerably whiter. The commerce of Dhofar must have
been exceedingly rich in those ancient days, as is evidenced by the size
and extent of the Sabæan ruins on the plain. They are the most easterly
ruins which have been found in Arabia of the Sabæan period, and probably
owe their origin entirely to the drug trade.

For the first few days of our journey, we suffered greatly from the
unruliness of the camels. They danced about like wild things at first,
and scattered our belongings far and wide, and all of us in our turns had
serious falls, and during those days, boxes and packages kept flying
about in all directions. Imam Sharif had his travelling trunk broken to
pieces and the contents scattered right and left, and some treasured
objects of jewellery therein contained were never recovered. So scarce
did rope become during our journey, that the Bedouin had actually to take
the leather thongs which bound their matted locks together, to lead the
camels with, and rope was almost the only thing they tried to steal from
us while we were in their company. At length our means of tying became so
exhausted that we had to send a messenger back to buy rope from Wali
Suleiman, and obtained a large sackful for two reals.

Our new supply of rope was made of aloe-fibre, barely twisted in one thin
strand, and at every camp we had to set up a rope-walk to make ropes that
would not break. The Garas were always cutting off short bits to tie
round their hair or their necks. The servants, headed by Lobo, had to be
very sharp in picking up all the pieces lying about after unloading, or
we should soon have been at a loss again.

We originally understood that Sheikh Sehel was going to take us up to the
mountains by a valley still farther west, but for some reason, which we
shall never know, he refused; some said the Mahri tribe was giving
trouble in this direction, others that the road was too difficult for
camels. At any rate, we had partially to retrace our steps, and following
along the foot of the mountains, found ourselves encamped not so many
miles away from Al Hafa.



CHAPTER XX

THE GARA MOUNTAINS


At length we turned our faces towards the Gara mountains, with
considerable interest and curiosity, and prepared to ascend them by a
tortuous valley, the Wadi Ghersìd, which dives into their very midst, and
forms the usual approach for camels, as the mountain sides in other parts
are too precipitous. After riding up the valley for a few miles, we came
across one of the small lakes of which we were in quest, nestling in a
rocky hole, and with its fine boulders hung with ferns and vegetation,
forming altogether one of the most ideal spots we had ever seen. That
arid Arabia could produce so lovely a spot, was to us one of the greatest
surprises of our lives. Water-birds and water-plants were here to be
found in abundance, and the hill slopes around were decked with fine
sycamores and acacia-trees, amongst the branches of which sweet white
jessamine, several species of convolvulus, and other creepers climbed.

The water was deliciously cool, rushing forth from three different points
in the rock among maidenhair and other ferns into the basin which formed
the lake, but it is impregnated with lime, which leaves a deposit all
down the valley along its course. Evidence of the mighty rush of water
during the rains is seen on all sides, rubbish is then cast into the
branches of the great fig-trees, and the Bedouin told us that at times
this valley is entirely full of water and quite impassable.

Next day we pursued our way up the gorge of Ghersìd, climbing higher and
higher, making our way through dense woods, often dangerous for the camel
riders, and obliging us frequently to dismount.

Merchants who visited Dhofar in pursuit of their trade knew of these
valleys, and not unnaturally brought home glowing accounts of their
fertility, and thus gained for Arabia a reputation which has been thought
to be exaggerated.

In the Wadi Ghersìd, amongst the dense vegetation which makes the spot a
veritable paradise, we came across many Bedouin of the Beit al Kathan
family tending their flocks and dwelling in the caves. They were all
exceedingly obsequious to Sheikh Sehel, and we soon found that he was a
veritable king amongst them, and forthwith we gave up any attempt to
guide our own footsteps, but left ourselves entirely in his hands, to
take us whither he would and spend as long about it as he liked. One
thing which interested us very much was to see the greetings of the
Bedouin: for an acquaintance they merely rub the palms of their hands
when they meet, and then kiss the tips of their respective fingers; for
an intimate friend they join hands and kiss each other; but for a
relative they not only join hands, but they rub noses and finally kiss on
either cheek. Whenever we met a party of their friends on our way, it was
a signal for a halt that these greetings might be observed, and then
followed a pipe. At first we rather resented these halts; but they take
such a short time over their whiff of tobacco, and are so disconsolate
without it, that we soon gave up complaints at these delays. They
literally only take one whiff and pass the stone pipe on, so that a halt
for a smoke seldom lasts more than five minutes, and all are satisfied.
Sheikh Sehel met many of his relatives in the Wadi Ghersìd, and his nose
was subject to many energetic rubs, and the novelty of this greeting,
about which one had vaguely read in years gone by, excited our interest
deeply, but at the same time we were thankful we were not likely to meet
any relatives in the valley, and to have to undergo the novel sensations
in person.

Every afternoon, when our tents were pitched and our baggage open, whole
rows of Bedouin would sit outside asking for medicine; pills, of special
violence of course, and quinine were the chief drugs required, and then
we had many sore eyes and revolting sores of every description, requiring
closer attention. As to the pills, we had some difficulty in getting the
Bedouin not to chew them, but when one man, Mas'ah by name, solemnly
chewed five Holloway's pills and was very sick after so doing, it began
to dawn upon them that our method was the right one. Most embarrassing of
all our patients was old Sheikh Sehel himself. Fortune had been kind to
him in most respects: she had given him wealth and power amongst men, and
the fickle goddess had bestowed upon him two wives, but alas! no
offspring, and to seek for a remedy for this, to a savage, overwhelming
disaster, he came with his head-men to the tent of the European medicine
men. It was in vain for my husband to tell him that he had brought no
remedy for this complaint. They had seen him on one or two occasions
consult a small medicine book, and their only reply to his negative was,
'The book; get out the book, Theodore,' and he had solemnly to pretend to
go through the volume before they could be convinced that he had no
medicine to meet the case.

It was curious to hear their morning greeting, 'Sabakh, Theodore! Sabakh,
Mabel!' The women of the Gara tribe are timid creatures, small, and not
altogether ill-looking; in fact the Garas are, as a tribe, undersized and
of small limbs, but exceedingly active and lithe. The women do not
possess the wealth in savage jewellery which we found to be the case in
the Hadhramout the previous year, nor do they paint themselves so
grotesquely with turmeric and other dyes, but indulge only in a few
patches of black, sticky stuff like cobbler's wax on their faces, and a
touch of antimony round their eyes and joining their eyebrows; they wear
no veils, and at first we could not get near them, as they ran away in
terror at our approach. They have but poor jewellery--silver necklaces,
armlets, nose, toe, and finger rings. One evening, when up in the
mountains, we were told that a harem wished to see us, and we were
conducted to a spot just out of sight of our tents, where sat three
females on the ground looking miserably shy, and in their nervousness
they plucked and ate grass, and constantly as we approached retreated
three or four steps back and seated themselves again. Presently, after
much persuasion, we got one of them to come to the tent and accept a
present of needles and other oddments, the delight of womankind all the
world over. Altogether these Gara women formed a marked and pleasant
contrast to the Bedouin women in the Hadhramout, who literally besieged
us in our tent, and never gave us any peace.

It is interesting to read in the 'Periplus' (p. 32) a description of this
coast and of the high mountains behind, 'where men dwell in holes.' We
often went to visit the troglodytes in their cave homes, where we found
men, women, and children living with their flocks and herds in happy
harmony. The floor of their caves is soft and springy, the result of the
deposits of generations of cattle; in the dark recesses of the cave the
kids are kept during their mother's absence at the pasture, and though
these caves are slightly odoriferous, we found them cool and refreshing
after the external heat. In some of them huts are erected for the
families, and in one cave we found almost a village of huts; but in the
smaller ones they have no covering, and when in the open the Gara cares
for nothing but a tree to shelter him. All their farm implements are of
the most primitive nature; the churn is just a skin hung on three sticks,
which a woman shakes about until she obtains her butter. Ghi or rancid
butter is one of the chief exports of Dhofar. They practise too, a pious
fraud on their cows by stretching a calf-skin on a stick, and when the
cow licks this she is satisfied and the milk comes freely. They have but
few pots and pans, and these of the dirtiest description, so when we got
milk from them we always sent our own utensils.

In these valleys, by rocks near the streams and under trees, live, the
Bedouin told us, those curious semi-divine spirits which they call
_jinni_, the propitiating of which seems to be the chief form of religion
amongst them. One morning, as we were riding up a narrow gorge beneath
the shade of a beetling cliff, our guides suddenly set up a sing-song
chant, which they continued for fully ten minutes. '_Aleik soubera, Aleik
soubera_,' were the words which they constantly repeated, and which were
addressed, they told us, to the jinni of the rocks, a supplication to
allow us to pass in safety.

Jinni also inhabit the lakes in the Gara mountains, and it is considered
dangerous to wet your feet in them, for you will catch a fever. We could
not induce the Bedouin to gather a water-plant we coveted in one of them
for this reason. They inhabit, too, the caves where the people dwell, and
have to be propitiated with suitable offerings. In fact, the fear of
jinni, and the skill of certain magicians in keeping them friendly, are
the only tangible form of religion that we could discover amongst them.
When at the coast villages they outwardly conform to the Mohammedan
customs, but when away in their mountains they abandon them altogether.
During the time we were with them they never performed either the prayers
or the ablutions required by the Moslem creed, and the only thing
approaching a religious festival amongst them that we heard of, is an
annual festival held by the Garas in November by the side of one of their
lakes, to which all the members of the different families repair, and at
which a magician sits on a rock in the centre of a group of dancing
Bedouin, to propitiate, with certain formulas, the jinni of the lake.
Amongst the Bedouin of the Hadhramout we noticed the same absence of
religious observances and the same superstitious dread of jinni, but at
the same time I fully believe they have their own sacred places and
festivals, which they conceal as much as possible from the fanatical
Moslems who dwell amongst them. A Bedouin never fasts during Ramazan, and
does not object to do his work during the month of abstinence, but he
goes to mosque and says his prayers when occasion brings him to the
coast. It seems to me a curious coincidence that in many other Mohammedan
countries we have visited we have come across the same story of concealed
religion as practised by the nomad races. We have the Ali-Ullah-hi in the
Persian mountains, about whose secret rites horrible stories are told; we
have the Ansairi and the Druses in the Lebanon, and the nomad Yourouks of
Asia Minor, and the Dünmeh of Salonika, about all of whom the strict
Mohammedans of the towns tell you exactly the same story that we heard
about the Bedouin of Southern Arabia. They are all looked upon as heathen
by the Moslems, and accredited with secret rites and ceremonies about
which no definite knowledge can be gained; and thus it would seem that
throughout the length and breadth of Islam there are survivals of more
ancient cults which the followers of Mohammed have never been able to
eradicate, cults which no doubt would offer points of vast interest to
the anthropologist if it were possible to unravel the mysteries which
surround them.

We were for ever hearing stories of jinni amongst the Gara Bedouin, and
all we could gather was that when propitiated they are friendly to the
human race. Old Sheikh Sehel and his men stuck to it that they had
constantly seen jinni, and their belief in them seems deeply rooted. This
word is pronounced ghinni in Southern Arabia.

On January 4 we were at Beit el Khatan. We had to climb on foot. The
valley became narrower as we went on, and the cliffs at the side were
full of long caverns, with great stumpy stalactites and stalagmites,
looking like teeth in gigantic mouths. The rocks we had to climb up were
very rough and rugged, but where millions of camels' feet in thousands of
years had polished them they were quite smooth and slippery. When we got
above the woods, all very hot, we were able to ride again, at an
elevation of 2,600 feet, on undulating, grassy ground.

We encamped under two large fig-trees, and the weather being cloudy and
windy were glad to find a quantity of wood ready gathered, the remains of
a night shelter. There was muddy water at a little distance. The climate
seems most healthy, in winter at least. Three kinds of figs grow here.
Some are little purple ones with narrow leaves, and some large red ones
with broad leaves.

Leaving the Wadi Ghersìd we had a beautiful journey. We two enjoyed every
minute of the three hours and a half.

We went up the valley through a thick forest of lovely trees. There were
myrtles, ilex, figs, acacia, and a quantity of other trees, with climbing
cacti and other creepers, and great high trees of jasmin. Sometimes it
was hard enough to get through the bushes and under the trees, perched up
aloft on our camels. We were down in the river-bed part of the time, and
then climbing through the forest to get to the top of the falls. Above
the forest rise tiers of cliffs, and there were trees at the top on a
tableland, as well as large isolated trees on most of the mountain tops,
sheltering many birds.

We had to wait fully an hour for our tent, as the servants' camels were
somehow belated, and it was considered to be all owing to the jinni,
whose abode we passed. Large white bustards assembled round our camp.

Once we were settled, there was the usual run on the medicine chest. A
very nice Bedou soldier, Aman, the head one, was given five pills into
one hand by my husband, and as he insisted on grasping his weapons with
his other, he had such difficulty in consuming them that I had to hold
the cup of water for him to sip from.

Madder trees grow about, and the Bedouin make clothes from the silky
fibres.

We ascended a good deal the following day, to a point whence our view
extended over the great central desert. It looked like a blue sea with a
yellow shore. We then turned a little to the south, then north again, and
found ourselves among a quantity of wooded spurs, and on the edge of a
deep wooded wadi.

Right up to the tops of the mountains, which reach an elevation of about
3,000 feet, the ground is fertile and covered with grass, on which large
herds of cattle feed; clusters of sycamores and limes growing here and
there give to the undulating hills quite a park-like appearance. As we
happened to be there in the dry season, the grass was all brown and
slippery, and there stood around us acres upon acres of hay with no one
to harvest it; but after the rains the aspect of the Gara hills must be
as green and pleasant as those of Derbyshire. The dry grass often catches
fire, and from the mountains in various directions we saw columns of
smoke arising as if from the chimneys of a manufacturing district. The
country through which we travelled for the next two days is covered with
thorny bushes and anthills, and is more like Africa than Arabia. The
anthills, though very extensive, were not so fantastic as those we saw in
Africa. We were going eastward over high ground; we decided to halt for
two nights near a pretty little hole full of maidenhair fern, where there
was water. It was nice and clean at first, but even at the end of the
first day it was much diminished and very muddy. Travellers like
ourselves must be a great nuisance drinking up the scanty supply of water
which might last the inhabitants for a long while.

We had hoped to get a good rest after our many days of marching, but
while we were here there came on the most frightful hurricane from the
north; it blew steadily for two days and nights and put all rest out of
the question. With difficulty could we keep our tents erect; when we were
in ours we had to be tightly tied in and sit next to the sunniest wall;
in the evening when the wind abated a little we used to sit by a large
fire, dressed in blankets.

The piercing blasts quite shrivelled up our poor unclad conductors, who
crouched in an inert mass round log fires which they made. We were
obliged to remain inactive, for they said the camels would not move
during this wind, though I believe the cause of inaction rose more from
their own dislike to travel in the cold; and so inert were they that we
could hardly get them to fetch us water from the neighbouring spring,
their whole energy being expended in fetching huge logs of wood to keep
the fires burning, and I think they were all pleased when the time came
to descend to the lower regions again and a warmer atmosphere.

We were afraid to start before the sun was up for fear the camels would
be too cold to move, and he did not visit us very early.

Sheikh Sehel promised to take us across the Gara border into Nejd if we
wished; but as it would have entailed a considerable delay and parley
with the sheikhs of the Nejd Bedouin, and as we could see from our
present vantage ground that the country would afford us absolutely no
objects of interest, we decided not to attempt this expedition.

On leaving our very exposed and nameless camping-ground, we pursued our
course in a north-east direction, still passing through the same
park-like scenery, through acres and acres of lovely hay, to be had for
nothing a ton. It is exceedingly slippery, and dangerous foothold for the
camels; consequently numerous falls were the result, and much of our
journey had to be done on foot.

We and they used involuntarily to sit down and slide and be brought up
suddenly by a concealed rock.

To the south the descent is abrupt and rocky to the plain of Dhofar and
the Indian Ocean, and the horizon line on either side is remarkably
similar, for in the far, far distance the sandy desert becomes a straight
blue line like a horizon of water. To the east and west the arid
barrenness of Arabia soon asserts itself, whereas the undulating Gara
range, like the Cotswold, is fertile, and rounded with deep valleys and
ravines running into it full of rich tropical vegetation.

On the second day we began again to descend a hideously steep path, and a
drop of about 1,500 feet brought us to a remarkable cave just above the
plain, and only about ten or twelve miles from Al Hafa. This cave burrows
far into the mountain side, and is curiously hung with stalactites, and
contains the deserted huts of a Bedou village, only inhabited during the
rains. Immediately below this cave in the Wadi Nahast are the ruins of an
extensive Sabæan town, in the centre of which is a natural hole 150 feet
deep and about 50 feet in diameter; around this hole are the remains of
walls, and the columns of a large entrance gate. We asked for information
about this place, but all we could get in reply was that it was the well
of the Addites, the name always associated with the ruins of the bygone
race. They also said the Minqui had lived in the town. In my opinion this
spot is the site of the oracle mentioned by Ptolemy and others, from
which the capital of Dhofar took its name. It much resembles the deep
natural holes, which we found in Cilicia in Asia Minor, where the oracles
of the Corycian and Olbian Zeus were situated. It is just below the great
cave I have mentioned, and, as a remarkable natural phenomenon, it must
have been looked upon with awe in ancient days, and it was a seat of
worship, as the ruined walls and gateway prove; furthermore, it is just
half a day's journey east of the city of Mansura or Zufar, where, Ibn
Batuta somewhat contemptuously says, 'is Al Akhaf, the abode of the
Addites,' and there is no other point on the plain of Dhofar where the
oracle could satisfactorily be located from existing evidence. Some time,
perhaps, an enterprising archæologist may be able to open the ruins about
here, and verify the identification from epigraphical evidence.

When we reached the valley Imam Sharif said: 'We do not know how we got
down that place, for all of our feet was each 36 inches from the other
foot.' We had such trouble squeezing through the trees, too.

We encamped not at all far from the deep hole, and at first were too hot
and tired after our tremendous clamber to look round, but my husband
found it in his sunset stroll, and came and called to me to hurry out
while light yet lingered in such joyful tones that I asked, 'Is it Dianæ
Oraculum?'

Before starting in the morning we went to visit some troglodytes, dirty,
but pleasant, and willing for us to see all there was to be seen, and as
anxious to see us; indeed, they wished to see more of me than I thought
convenient, but fortunately my husband's collar-stud came undone and they
all crowded to see his white chest amid shouts of 'Shouf Theodore!' (Look
at Theodore).

One of these people had fever and another neuralgia. We found neuralgia
pretty common in Arabia. Quassia-chips were given to each to steep in
water, but carefully tied up in different coloured cotton bags. Our way
was very uninteresting, due south to the sea at Rizat.

My husband's camel required repacking, and he and Hassan managed to lose
sight of the rest of the _kafila_. Imam Sharif and I went on without
perceiving that the rest had stopped. We had to wait an hour to be found.
I dismounted, and sat in a circle of thirteen men. When one of them
wished to attract my attention he tapped me on the knee with sword or
stick, saying, 'Ya (oh), Mabel!'

One of the first days I heard them consulting what my name might be;
several were suggested, but at last they thought it must be 'Fàtema' and
to try called 'Ya Fàtema!' I said 'My name is not "Fàtema";' then they
asked, and thus they learnt our names.

They said they did not wish us to give them orders of any kind as they
were sheikhs; certainly not through the soldiers. 'We are gentlemen, and
they are slaves, and if we choose we can kill them. What is it to us? We
shall have to pay 400 reals, but we can give a camel each and can well
afford it. We are rich.'

I must say these men were often very kind to me.



CHAPTER XXI

THE IDENTIFICATION OF ABYSSAPOLIS


We now pursued our way along the coast-line of Dhofar in an easterly
direction. Wali Suleiman entertained us for a night at a farm he had
built at a place called Rizat, the land around which is watered by an
abundant stream. His garden was rich in many kinds of fruits, and on our
arrival, hot and weary from the road, he spread a carpet for us under the
shade of a mulberry tree while our camp was pitched, and ordered a slave
to pick us a dishful of the fruit, which was exceedingly refreshing.
Besides these he provided us with papayas, gourds, vegetables, and all
sorts of delicacies to which we had been strangers during our wanderings
in the Gara mountains. In this genial retreat Wali Suleiman passed much
of his time, leaving behind him at Al Hafa the cares of state and the
everlasting bickerings in his harem.

The next morning, refreshed and supplied with the requisites for another
journey, we started off again in our easterly course towards Takha, the
most important village at the east end of the plain of Dhofar. As we rode
across the plain we were perpetually harassed by the thought as to where
the excellent harbour could be, which is mentioned by all ancient writers
as frequented by the frankincense merchants, and which modern writers,
such as Dr. Glaser and Sir E. H. Bunbury, agree in considering to be some
little way west of Merbat. Yakut tells us how the ancient ships on their
way to and from India tarried there during the monsoons, and he further
tells us that it was twenty parasangs east of the capital. The 'Periplus'
speaks of it as Moscha, Ptolemy as Abyssapolis, and the Arabs as Merbat;
but as there is no harbourage actually at Merbat, it clearly could not be
there. So as we went along we pondered on this question, and wondered if
this celebrated harbour was, after all, a myth.

It was a most uninteresting ride along this coast: flat, and for the most
part barren, broken here and there by lagoons of brackish and
evil-smelling water and mangrove swamps. On the way we saw antelopes and
foxes with white bushy tails. One night we encamped by one of these river
beds on slightly rising ground, and were devoured by mosquitoes, and so
pestilent are these insects here that they not only attacked us, but
tormented our camels to such a degree that they were constantly jumping
up in the night and making such hideous demonstrations of their
discomfort that our rest was considerably interfered with.

When we reached Takha, after a ride of fifteen miles, we found ourselves
once more amongst a heap, or rather two heaps, of Sabæan ruins, which had
not been so much disturbed by subsequent occupants as those at the
capital, but at the same time they were not nearly so fine, and the
columns were mostly undecorated. There were also some very rough
sarcophagi.

The wali of Takha received us well, and placed his house at our disposal,
but it was so dirty we elected to pitch our tents, and encamped some
little distance from the village. On the following morning the wali sent
us with a guide to inspect some ruins round the neighbouring headland
which forms one end of the bay, of which Ras Risout is the other. The
rock of which it is composed is white in all the sheltered parts and
where the path is polished, and nearly black in the exposed parts. When
we reached the other side of this promontory, to our amazement we saw
before us a long sheet of water, stretching nearly two miles inland,
broken by many little creeks, and in some parts fully half a mile wide.
This sheet of water, which is called Kho Rouri, had been silted up at its
mouth by a sandbank, over which the sea could only make its way at high
tide, and the same belt of sand separated from it a fortified rock,
Khatiya by name, which must formerly have been an island protecting the
double entrance to what once must have been an excellent harbour, and
which could be again restored to its former condition by an outlay of
very little capital and labour. We were the more amazed at coming across
this sheet of water, as it is not marked in the Admiralty chart.

Surely there can be no doubt that this is the harbour which was anciently
used by the merchants who came to this coast for frankincense. It would
be absolutely secure at all seasons of the year, and it is just twenty
parasangs from the ruins of the ancient capital--exactly where it ought
to be, in fact--and probably the Arabs called it Merbat, a name which has
been retained in the modern village on the sheltering headland, where we
landed when we first reached Dhofar. As for the name Moscha--given in the
'Periplus'--it is like Mocha, a name given to several bays on the Arabian
coast, and I think we discovered why Ptolemy called it Abyssapolis, as I
will presently explain. We ascended the rock at the entrance, took a
photograph of the sheet of water, and felt that we had at last succeeded
in reconstructing the geography of this interesting bit of country.

I hear that the Egyptologists are in search of a harbour to which the
expedition to the land of Punt was made under the enterprising Queen
Hatasou. Some imagine that this coast of Arabia was the destination of
this expedition, and I herewith call their attention to this spot, for I
know of none other more likely on the barren, harbourless coast
between Aden and Maskat. If we take the illustration of this expedition
given in the temple of Deir al Bahari, we have, to begin with, the
frankincense trees, the long straight line of water running inland, the
cattle and the birds; then the huts which the Bedouin build on tall
poles, approached by ladders, from which they can inspect the produce of
their land and drive off marauders, look exactly like those thereon
depicted. All that we want are the apes, which certainly do not now exist
in the Gara mountains, but it is just the spot where one would expect to
find them; and in a district where the human race has been reduced to the
smallest point, there is no reason why the kindred race of apes should
not have disappeared altogether. Apes still exist near Aden.

[Illustration: THE ABYSS OF ABYSSAPOLIS, DHOFAR]

We had great difficulty in getting the camels to face the water and carry
us to the peninsula, the water being half-way up their sides. On climbing
up we saw columns lying about, and there had been a wall all round the
summit. It had originally been built in courses with roughly squared
stones, as we could see near the doorway, but the present wall is of
ordinary broken stones.

Leaving the harbour behind us we again approached the mountains, and,
after journeying inland for about eight miles, we found the valley
leading up to the mountains choked up by a most remarkable formation
caused by the calcareous deposit of ages from a series of streams which
precipitate themselves over a stupendous wall in feathery waterfalls.
This abyss is perfectly sheer, and hung in fantastic confusion with
stalactites. At its middle it is 550 feet in depth, and its greatest
length is about a mile. It is quite one of the most magnificent natural
phenomena I have ever seen, and suggestive of comparison with the
calcareous deposits in New Zealand and Yellowstone Park; and to those who
visited this harbour in ancient days it must have been a familiar
object, so no wonder that when they went home and talked about it, the
town near it was called the City of the Abyss, and Ptolemy, as was his
wont, gave the spot a fresh appellative, just as he called the capital
the Oracle of Artemis.

About a quarter of a mile from the western side of the whole abyss is a
small conical mountain, about 1,000 feet high, which looks as if it had
once stood free but were now nearly smothered by the petrifaction of the
overflowing water. It rises above the level top of the cliffs, and has
about a quarter of a mile of abyss on one side, which is only 300 feet in
depth, and half a mile on the other. It is all wooded. The larger side
and the upper plain is called Derbat, and the smaller Merbat or Mergà.

The three days we spent in exploring the neighbourhood of this abyss were
the brightest and pleasantest of all during this expedition. Our camp was
pitched under shady trees about half a mile from the foot of the abyss,
whither we could wander and repose under the shade of enormous plantains
which grew around the watercourse, and listen to the splashing of the
stream as it was precipitated over the rock to irrigate the ground below,
where the Bedouin had nice little gardens in which the vegetation was
profuse. One day we spent in photography and sketching, wandering about
the foot of the rocky wall; and another day, starting early in the
morning, with one camel to carry our things, we set off to climb the hill
by a tortuous path under shady trees which conducted us along the side of
the hill, and got lovely glimpses of the abyss on both sides through the
branches.

On reaching the summit we found ourselves on an extensive and
well-timbered flat meadow, along which we walked for a mile or so. It was
covered with cattle belonging to the Bedouin grazing on its rich
pasturage. It seemed like the place Jack reached when he had climbed up
the beanstalk. At length we came to two lovely narrow lakes, joined
together by a rapid meandering stream, delicious spots to look upon, with
well-wooded hills on either side, and a wealth of timber in every
direction. We lunched and took our midday siesta under a wide-spreading
sycamore by the stream, after walking up alongside the lakes for nearly
two miles; fat milch cows, not unlike our own, were feeding by the
rushing stream; birds of all descriptions filled the branches of the
trees, water-hens and herons and ducks were in abundance on one of the
lakes, bulrushes and water-weeds grew in them; it would be an ideal
little spot in any country, but in Arabia it was a marvel. The trees were
loaded with climbing cactus and a large purple convolvulus with great
round leaves.

We wanted to get some water-plants, easily to be obtained if anyone would
have entered the lake in which they grew, but the jinni or ghinni who
lives there (our old friend the Genius of the 'Arabian Nights') was so
dangerous that the plants had to be hooked out with sticks and branches
tied to strings. Sheikh Sehel maintains that he has seen ghinni in that
neighbourhood.

This wide-spreading meadow can be watered at will by damming up the
streams which lead the water from the lakes to the abyss, and in a large
cave near the edge of the precipice dwells a family of pastoral Bedouin
who own this happy valley; before leaving the higher level we went to the
edge and peered over into the hollow below, where, far beneath us, was
our camping ground among the trees, and in the sun's rays the waterfall
over the white cliff gave out beautiful rainbows. We had to cross much
swampy ground, and got our feet wet, without catching the inevitable
fever.

Imam Sharif camped away from us one night and found that the streams
which feed them have their source up in the limestone, about two days'
journey from them. The Bedouin are exceedingly proud of them, and in the
absence of much water in their country they naturally look upon them with
almost superstitious awe and veneration. Perhaps in Scotland one might be
more inclined to call them mountain tarns, for neither of them is more
than a mile in length, and in parts they are very narrow; yet they are
deep, and, as the people at Al Hafa proudly told us, you could float
thereon any steamer you liked, which may or may not be true, but their
existence in a country like Arabia is, after all, their chief cause for
renown. This really is Arabia Felix.

If ever this tract of country comes into the hands of a civilised nation,
it will be capable of great and useful development. Supposing the harbour
restored to receive ships of moderate size, the Gara hills, rich in grass
and vegetation, with an ample supply of water and regular rains, and,
furthermore, with a most delicious and health-giving air, might be of
inestimable value as a granary and a health resort for the inhabitants of
the burnt-up centres of Arabian commerce, Aden and Maskat. It is, as I
have said, about half way between them, and it is the only fertile
stretch of coast-line along that arid frontage of the Arabian Peninsula
on to the Indian Ocean.

Every November a fair or gala is held up here by the side of the lakes,
to which all the Bedouin of the Gara tribe come and make merry, and the
fair of Derbat is considered by them the great festival of the year. A
round rock was shown us on which the chief magician sits to exorcise the
jinni of the lakes, and around him the people dance. There is doubtless
some religious purport connected with all this, but, as I have said
before, it is extremely difficult to get anything out of the Bedouin
about their religious opinions; like the Bedouin of the Hadhramout, they
do not observe the prayers and ablutions inculcated by the Mohammedan
creed, and the Arabs speak of them as heathen, but beyond this we could
not find out much. Their language, too, is different from anything we had
heard before. They can understand and converse in Arabic after a fashion,
but when speaking amongst themselves none of our party, Arab or European,
could make out anything they said, and from such simple words as we were
able to learn--such, for example, as _ouft_ for _wadi_, a valley, _shur_
instead of _yom_ for day, and _kho_ instead of _nahr_ for a river--we
were led to believe that they speak an entirely different language, and
not a dialect as in the Hadhramout.

As we passed through the hay, the Gara had gathered up a lot of it in
sacks, which they put under the camels' loads by day and used as beds by
night, and between times applied to quite a different purpose. One of
these sacks was used as a combined dish and strainer when they boiled
their rice. The rice was turned out of the pot, and as soon as the cook
had scraped it all out with his hands they sat round, and fed themselves
with handfuls of it.

After another day, spent over sketching, photography, and measurements,
we felt we had thoroughly explored the neighbourhood of the abyss, so we
started back to Al Hafa to prepare for our departure from Dhofar.

It took us three days to get there. We stayed a night on the way on some
high ground above one of the swamps, and on the second day stopped to
visit Hamran, or Hameroun, where the wali had built a small fort and a
farm, which supplied him when at Rizat with butter, vegetables and fruit.
He also grew tobacco there.

We found ourselves once more in our old quarters in the castle, where
many fleas had been born in our absence, while the flies and mosquitoes
were not diminished. The wali had more prisoners. We again visited Robat
and the other ruins.

The interests which centred in this small district--the ancient sites,
the abyss, and, above all, the surprising fertility of the valleys and
mountains, the delicious health-giving air, and the immunity from actual
danger which we had enjoyed--combined in making us feel that our sojourn
in Dhofar had been one of the most enjoyable and productive of any
expedition we had hitherto undertaken, and that we had discovered a real
Paradise in the wilderness, which will be a rich prize for the civilised
nation which is enterprising enough to appropriate it.



CHAPTER XXII

SAILING FROM KOSSEIR TO ADEN


Our object had been to go across from Dhofar by land to the Hadhramout,
across the Mahri country. Wali Suleiman had done all in his power to help
us, but without much success, as the Gara were more or less at war with
the Mahri, who are a dangerous warlike tribe. When we first left Al Hafa,
a message had been sent to the Mahri chiefs to come and arrange about our
journey, but on our return we found that only two had come. They said if
we would give them 200 reals, _i.e._ about 12_l._, they would let us go
through their country, but they made no allusion to the request that they
would arrange with the Minhali, Amri, Kattiri, and Tamimi. As far as we
and the wali could make out, they would only have let us go a certain way
along their coast, and then we should have been in difficulty about a
ship. The reply from the sultan of Jedid was also unfavourable, so we had
nothing left but to hire a _batil_ and set sail along the coast for
Kishin, to the sultan of which place my husband had a letter from the
British political agent at Maskat.

We took leave of Wali Suleiman with much regret, and had we foreseen all
the disappointments that were in store for us we should, I think, have
stayed far longer under his favourable influence. We were sorry
afterwards to hear of his death. A rebellion broke out, in which his
castle was knocked into ruins, and in the battle he, his eldest son, and
little black Muoffok were all killed.

A long sea journey in an Arab batil is exceedingly uncomfortable. We had
a cabin in the stern, open all round; a sail was stretched in front to
secure our privacy; it was so low that we could by no means stand or even
sit up except on the deck, as 3 feet 6 inches was the height of this
place. It was roofed over with palm-stalks supported on posts overlaid
with matting, so slippery that Imam Sharif and Hassan, the interpreter,
had to tie themselves with ropes, as there was nothing to prevent their
sliding into the sea. I stayed in my camp bed for six days, as there was
nothing else to do. Our servants crowded every space on the outer part of
the deck in and on boxes. We had some palm-leaf matting hung on the port
and southern side to shield us from the sun, and much rejoiced that we
were not deprived by the sun of the glorious views which unrolled
themselves along our starboard side.

When morning came, Lobo used to creep in across my husband's feet and
bring our basins to our bed-sides, and when our toilette was finished he
used to creep in and fetch them, and then creep back, and, spreading the
breakfast on the floor, squat in the middle and hand us our food. The
gunwale of the batil was only three inches from the level of my bed. Airy
as our 'cabin' was, bilge-water was our torment.

We had started on January 23, the weather being cool and overcast, about
11 o'clock, and reached the village of Rakhiout in thirty hours--only
forty miles.

We called there to do a civility to the wali, and leave two soldiers
there. This is the end of Omani influence, and there is a small fort as a
protection against the Mahri. There was a contrary wind and such a
violent swell that we rocked and tossed for thirty more hours in front of
the small village, whence parties of inhabitants came to stare at us. It
is on a small flat space, with high hills and cliffs all round it.

We started at last, and got at least two miles, when we were awakened by
a great gale. I was nearly blown out of bed. The sail was taken down, and
we were in some danger, as it was feared the mast would give way. We
anchored, and the wind seemed to blow from all sides at once; the small
boat was nearly smashed against the rudder. The stars were shining
brightly all the time.

We started again at dawn, and did not go more than three-quarters of a
mile in the whole day, the wind being so contrary. One of the
peculiarities of our navigation was that whenever we tacked we went
completely round. At sunset we had to cast anchor again, and lie tossing
till three, and then went on well.

While at anchor we heard shouts and cries to come to land, but our
sailors would do nothing of the sort. They said a single man might often
be seen calling that he was wrecked, and asking to be fetched away, but a
party of armed men would be behind a rock, and come out and murder the
benevolent crew and steal the boat.

It was really delightful in the morning to open my still sleepy eyes and,
without moving, to see the lovely picture which seemed to be passing
before me--not I before it--of beautiful mountains with their foreground
of water, every fold and distance filled up and separated by soft
vapours. Then sunrise began to paint the rocks red, and black shadows
came and changed their shapes, and presently all became hard and stony
looking.

Passing Ras Hamar, which is the next cape to Risout, we had seen easily
how it had acquired the name, for it looks like a donkey drinking, with
its nose in the water and its ears cocked. This shows particularly from
the west. In the pilot book of that sea, it is stated that it is called
Hamar, or Ahmar, from its red colour; but it is not red. The two peculiar
peaks on its summit are noticed.

The wind died away about nine, and we shook about and went round and
round; but in the afternoon we had a good wind, and at noon of the next
day (January 28) we were before Kishin.

The sultan was at his village, three miles inland, or, more correctly, in
sand--a hot walk. He is a wizened little old man, who can neither read
nor write, and was poorly dressed, visitors being quite unexpected.

The village of Kishin, the Mahri capital, consists of a few scattered
houses and some Bedou huts of matting and poles placed in a dreary sandy
waste, very different from the fertile plain of Dhofar, and more like the
surroundings of Sheher.

When my husband asked for the sultan's assistance to go into the
Hadhramout, he said: 'No one ever goes that way, it is full of robbers.'

Of course he was civil enough, as my husband showed him the letter from
Maskat, but he seemed to have little authority. I think his followers
were sorry to see such a likely prize depart unmolested. Those on board
were rather alarmed at the length of time consumed in these negotiations.

The old Sultan Salem is father to the sultan of Sokotra, which belongs to
the Mahri tribe, and brother to the sultan of Saihut, another robber
chief, who is equally averse to admitting Europeans to his dominions. The
fact is that these tribes object to European inquiry, as they know they
would no longer be able to exist in their present condition.

My husband extracted from him a letter to his brother of Saihut.

After our futile attempts to penetrate into the Mahri country, there was
nothing left for us but to start again in our boat for Sheher, and rely
on the promises which Sultan Hussein al Kaiti had given us the year
before of sending us under safe escort to the eastern portion of the
Hadhramout valley, which must contain much of interest, not yet having
been explored by Europeans; so we set sail again, and were soon passing
country that we had ridden over on camels.

Ras Fartak is the great landmark, but the fine scenery ends at Jedid.
Looking back, the rich colouring of the capes, seeming to overlap one
another, and the great height, give a most impressive effect. The slopes
are adorned with feathery-looking trees, and there are many little sandy
beaches, and there were also many deep caverns. For two days we saw
hardly an inhabitant.

Between Jedid and Ras Fartak the land is low and recedes, and as we
sailed along we decided that it was the mouth of some big valley from the
interior, and after careful cross-examination of the sultan of Kishin and
our sailors we gathered that this was actually the mouth of the great
Hadhramout valley, which does not take the extraordinary bend that is
given in our maps, but runs in almost a straight line from west to east,
and the bend represents an entirely distinct valley, the Wadi Mosila,
which comes out at Saihut.

We were two days getting to Sheher, anchoring both nights; the first, as
'dirty weather' was causing alarm, was a very noisy one, the servants and
sailors talking and singing all night to be in readiness. The second
night we were put to bed very quietly among the strange and weird stacks
of rocks at Ras Dis, and had a heavy shower of rain, which, of course,
penetrated our matting roof.

When we reached Sheher, a messenger was sent ashore with a letter to
Sultan Hussein, and a message was returned inviting us to take up our
quarters in the same unfinished palace where we had lived ten months
before. One of the first people to greet us was the _nàkhoda_ of the ship
on which we had gone to Aden from Sheher. The word _reis_ for captain is
never used. Ghaleb Mia was at the house to meet us, and we were much
interested by finding that the governors of everywhere round about were
in Sheher to give up their accounts. He of Hagarein was scowling, but
they of Dis, Kosseir, and Haura seemed friendly and pleased to see us. We
heard good accounts of various patients, and were especially pleased to
hear that the daughter of the governor of Dis, who had for some time been
bedridden with a bad leg, had been well ever since our visit--quite cured
by Holloway's ointment. The next day there were great negotiations and
plannings as to our future course.

Our scheme was that we should go from Sheher to Inat in the Hadhramout
valley, down to Bir Borhut and Kabr Houd, and thence eastward to Wadi
Mosila, back to Sheher by the coast, and then try to go westward--or, as
to us appeared preferable, to go up by the Wadi Mosila to Wadi
Hadhramout, and then to try to get to the west without returning to
Sheher.

There we stuck for some days, listening to any gossip we could hear, and
taking evening walks by the sea, guarded by soldiers. We were told that
Sultan Salàh of Shibahm had lost his head wife, the sister of Manassar of
Makalla, but had consoled himself by marrying four others about two
months afterwards, and had divorced two of them already. The family of Al
Kaiti are not very good friends among themselves; a soldier discharged by
Salàh of Shibahm is always quickly engaged by Hussein of Sheher, and if
Hussein dismisses a servant he is sure of a place with Manassar. They
stop each other's letters and annoy each other in many ways, but are
always ready to unite if any strange foe assails their family.

Manassar had quarrelled with his wife, the daughter of Salàh, because
Salàh, on the death of his wife, had refused to marry a third daughter of
Manassar, as his dying wife requested. Hussein had only one wife and no
children.

There had been great trouble with the Hamoumi, and only three months
before two soldiers had been killed about half a mile from Sheher. Ghaleb
Mia and Hussein Mia dared not go to Inbula or anywhere outside their
walls without forty or fifty men, and when Salàh's daughter, who is
married to the seyyid, came to Sheher, she had to come by a circuitous
route, with an escort of five hundred men.

When a Bedou has committed a murder, he runs to the houses of the
seyyids, where there is sanctuary, and gets absolution on paying four or
five hundred dollars, according to the rank of the murdered man. Thus
travelling is difficult unless you have paid _siyar_, and a relation of
the _siyara_ is kept in prison at Sheher. All this time the behaviour of
the sultans and their hospitality to us were very different to what it
had been the year before; they sent us no presents of food, nor did they
ever invite Imam Sharif to a meal, which they had constantly done when we
were last there. Their manner was stiff and constrained, and they said
they themselves had been badly treated for their kindness to us and that
they were now considered Kafirs themselves. The fact is that all the
Mohammedan world was in a state of restless activity, as the jehad, or
holy war, was being preached. And now I will tell a most remarkable
circumstance, quite the most extraordinary in this book.

Sultan Hussein told my husband _on February 1_ that a consul had been
murdered at Jedda.

We were most excited about this, and anxiously inquired about it when we
reached Aden, but heard that no murder had taken place, _nor did it till
May_, when several consuls were murdered.

This proves that it must have been a very long-arranged plan, and that
the sultan knew of it and thought it had had time to be carried out. No
doubt all this accounted for his bad reception of us.

After a good deal of illusory delay, the sultan declared he could not in
any way be responsible for our safety if we went anywhere from Sheher, so
we had to bow to the inevitable and put ourselves on board a dhow
belonging to Kutch, bound for Aden.

The captain and sailors were all Hindoos, and to our amusement our
Mohammedan party were as unclean as ourselves. The crew would not let us
touch their fire and water, and filled our vessels themselves without
touching them, very good-humouredly, and they made up an extra galley for
us by putting some sand in a wooden box, and here Christians and Moslems
had perforce to cook together. Of course we did not mind, but there was
much laughter at the expense of the others, in which indeed they joined,
for they bore their adversity amiably when it brought strange
cooking-fellows.

On reaching Aden we still desired to penetrate into the Jebel Akhdar, so
looked out for a ship going to Maskat. We could find none, therefore we
embarked for India with all our company. I am not going to describe
India, but will only tell of our money difficulties.

So ignorant were we and everyone at Maskat as to what money was in use in
Dhofar, that we were persuaded that it was necessary to take an immense
quantity of small change in the shape of copper coins about the size of a
farthing, supposed to be Omani. We had four wooden boxes bound with wire,
about 1 foot long and 5 or 6 inches high and wide, delivered to us, all
closed up, and said to have a certain sum in each.

Soon after we set out we opened one of these boxes to get out some money
and have it ready, but found in it so many and various kinds of coins,
all the same size, that we opened all the boxes, making quite a mound on
the ground, to sort out the German East Africa, English East Africa,
Zanzibar, and other useless coins, and then packed them neatly up, an
awfully troublesome and dirty job. We kept out what we thought would
pass, but behold! all were useless; no one would look at anything but
Maria Theresa dollars and Indian coins down to two-anna pieces--nothing
lower.

All these boxes, therefore, had to return to Maskat, and when paying off
the interpreter, Hassan, a most respectable person with large, round,
gold spectacles, my husband asked him to be kind enough to take his money
in these boxes and change at Maskat. No, he would only have good silver
dollars; and sadly he rued his want of good-nature.

We two and Lobo, whom we retained, went to a hotel in Bombay, but Imam
Sharif, Khan Bahadur, his four men, our Goanese cook, Hassan, and a
certain young Afghan, Ahmet, who had been a sort of odd man and
tent-pitcher, went to a caravanserai; and after Hassan's steamer had
departed to Maskat, Imam Sharif came and told us the doleful tidings that
Ahmet had disappeared with the good silver dollars and the gold watch and
chain of Hassan. No doubt he then regretted he had not taken the boxes of
copper.

[Illustration: MAP OF

MOUNT ERBA

and surrounding country

to illustrate the explorations of

Mr. J. THEODORE BENT

_Stanford's Geog.^l Estab.^t, London_

London: Smith, Elder & Co.]



AN AFRICAN INTERLUDE: THE EASTERN SOUDAN



CHAPTER XXIII

COASTING ALONG THE RED SEA


In the winter of 1895, though we still wished to continue our
investigations in Arabia, we found it impracticable, owing to the warlike
state of the tribes there, so we decided to turn our attention to the
other side of the Red Sea, and travel once more in Africa.

Parts of Africa have to be discovered and other parts rediscovered. Each
little war and each little journey contributes to the accomplishment of
both these ends with surprising rapidity, but the geographical millennium
is looming in the distance when the traveller will no longer require his
sextant and theodolite, but will take his spade and pruning-hook to
cultivate the land this generation is so busy in discovering.

That winter we added a few square miles to a blank corner of the map
where re-discovery was necessary, and where re-discovery will go on apace
and produce most interesting results, when we have finished conquering
the barbarous followers of the Khalifa, and restore law and order to that
wide portion of Africa known as the Eastern Soudan; for the Soudan,
meaning in Arabic 'the country of the blacks,' really extends from the
Atlantic to the Red Sea. Little did we think when we started to explore
the western shores of the Red Sea that the explosion with the Dervishes
was so near, otherwise I think we should have turned our steps in another
direction.

We had with us Mr. Alfred Cholmley, who took numbers of beautiful
photographs, and Lieutenant, now Captain, N. M. Smyth, D.S.O., Queen's
Bays, kindly attached to our expedition by Colonel Sir F. Wingate, and to
his exertions we owe the map.

My husband had always thought it foolish to engage an interpreter unknown
to him, on his own responsibility, and would only have one recommended by
the official of our Government. The choice made for us on this occasion
was not at all successful. He tried to make out that he was the principal
leader of the party, and his impedimenta far exceeded ours. He may or may
not have been sent to keep us from going more than ten miles from the
coast, but no explorer would wish to remain within the limits set down in
the Admiralty Chart. My husband found it necessary to dispense with his
services when we were at Mersa Halaib, and we got on far better without
him.

Our first task was to choose a ship; it was exciting work rowing about in
the harbour of Suez in order to find one that would suit us.

A letter from our interpreter had told us we could have one at 120_l._ a
month, a sum which our great experience of sailing-boats told us was
quite too large. When we started our search, having refused this, we were
only shown wretched boats in which we could hardly sit and certainly not
stand. We espied one we thought would do, and said nothing at that time,
but afterwards my husband and Matthaios went off by themselves and
engaged her for 35_l._ a month, and I do not think that a better ship was
to be found in Suez--certainly there was none worth 120_l._

Our boat was an Arab dhow of 80 tons, named the _Taisir_; we at once put
her in the hands of a carpenter, who boarded off two cabins for us four
whites, in the big, open stern cabin, leaving a sort of verandah in front
of them, about 8 feet in depth, where we lived by day. Campbell Bey, who
lives at Terre Pleine, pronounced by the English Terry Plain, kindly lent
us two water-tanks containing half a ton each.

We embarked late on Christmas night, and by the murky light of lanterns
the ship looked most dreary and uninviting; but when we had furnished it,
by laying down our tent carpet and beds and hanging sheets of coloured
calico over the gaping boards of our walls, and had put up the cabin
bags, we were quite snug. We always had to close in our verandah with a
sail at night, for when the ship swung round at anchor we were exposed to
the north wind.

Our captain, Reis Hamaya, turned out an excellent fellow, as also did the
seventeen sailors he had under him; and though at times they would
quarrel loudly enough amongst themselves, the only points of discord
which arose between them and us always had reference to the length of
time they wished to stop in harbour and the length of distance they
wished to go in a day. Ill-fed, dirty, unkempt men as our sailors were,
we got to like them all, from the elderly dignified Mohammed, who thought
he knew more about navigation than the captain, to Ahmet Faraj, the
buffoon who played the tom-tom and made everybody laugh; this worthy
individual was the recognised leader of all the festivities with which
they regaled us from time to time, consisting of very ugly songs and a
yet uglier dance, the chief art in which consisted in wagging their
elastic tails with an energy which mortals further removed from monkey
origin could never hope to approach.

We travelled all the first night, but the second we anchored near Safaia
Island, and the third at a place called Sheikh Ganem, in front of the
Ashrafi Light, and the fourth day found us at Kosseir, which means
'little castle.' The Government steamer _Abbas_, which had started one
day after us and gone straight down 'outside', had only got in two hours
before us, and we had been 'inside', through the reefs, and stopped all
night, so we thought we had not done badly.

We stayed two nights in the harbour to make our final victualling
arrangements. Kosseir, our last really civilised point, is now a wretched
place, though twice in its existence it has been of importance, owing to
its road connection with Keneh on the Nile. Five miles to the north of
the present town are the ruins of the old Ptolemaic one, Myos Hormos
(Kosseir Kadim), where the Red Sea fleets in ancient days assembled to
start for India; twenty years ago it was a favourite point for the
departure of pilgrims for Mecca, and the P. and O. had offices there,
which are now turned into camel-stables. Kosseir is waiting for a railway
before it can again recoup its fortunes.

There are two mosques of pretty architecture, with courses of dark red
stone from Keneh, and white Kosseir limestone; there are also diaper and
fretwork patterns; the pillars are similarly decorated and are quaint and
picturesque. The tombs of the Ababdeh sheikhs have melon-shaped domes,
and there are endless dovecotes, chiefly made of broken old amphoræ built
into walls.

Along the whole coast-line from Kosseir to Sawakin one may say that there
are no permanent places of residence, if we except the tiny Egyptian
military stations, with their fort and huts for the soldiers, at Halaib,
Mohammed Gol, and Darour; it is practically desert all the way, and is
only visited by the nomad Ababdeh and Bisharin tribes, when, after the
rains, they can obtain there a scanty pasturage for their flocks. During
the Ptolemaic and early Arab periods the condition of affairs was very
different; several considerable towns stood on this coast, now marked
only by heaps of sand and a few fallen walls. In spite of its aridity,
this coast has a wonderful charm of its own; its lofty, deeply serrated
mountains are a perpetual joy to look upon, and the sunset effects were
unspeakably glorious, rich in every conceivable colour, and throwing out
the sharp outline of the pointed peaks against the crimson sky.

The nature of this coast-line is singularly uniform, and offers
tremendous obstacles to navigation, owing to the great belt of coral
reefs along it, through which the passage was often barely wide enough
for our dhow to pass, and against which on more than one occasion we came
in unpleasant contact. The bay of Berenice, for example, was for this
reason known in ancient times as akathartos kolpos, and is still
known as 'Foul Bay'; it can only be navigated with the greatest care by
native pilots accustomed to the various aspects of the water, which in
many places only just covers the treacherous reefs. All boats are obliged
to anchor during the night either just inside the reefs or in the
numerous coves along the coast, which are caused by the percolations of
fresh water through the sandbeds of rivers into the sea, and these
prevent the coral insect from erecting its continuous wall.

The rapidly succeeding little harbours formed in the coral reef are
called _mersa_, or anchorage, by the Arabs, from _mersat_, anchor.

Sometimes when the coral reef rises above the surface low islets have
been formed, with sandy surface and a scant marine vegetation. By one of
these, named Siyal, we were anchored for a night, and on landing we found
it about three miles in length, some 50 feet in width, and never more
than 4 feet above the surface of the sea. On its eastern side the shore
was strewn with cinders from the numerous steamers which ply the Red Sea,
and quantities of straw cases for bottles, out of which the ospreys,
which live here in large numbers, have built their nests. Turtles revel
in the sand, and corals of lovely colours line the beach, and at one
extremity of the islet we found the remains of a holy sheikh's hut, with
his grave hard by. Many such holy men dwell on promontories and on remote
island rocks along this coast in sanctified seclusion, and they are
regularly supported by the Bedouin and pearl-fishers, who bring them food
and water, neither of which commodities is to be found in such
localities. Our sailors on New Year's Eve took a handsome present of
bread and candles, presented to them by us, to a holy man who dwelt on
the extreme point of Ras Bernas, and had a long gossip with him
concerning what boats had passed that way and the prospects of
trade--_i.e._ the slave trade--in these desert regions. They burnt
incense before his shrine, and the captain devoutly said his evening
prayer, whilst he of the tom-tom, Ahmet Faraj, stood behind and mimicked
him, to the great amusement of his fellows--a piece of irreverence I have
never seen before in any Mohammedan country. Still I think our sailors
were as a whole religious; they observed their fasts and prayers most
regularly during Ramazan, and their only idea of time was regulated by
the five prayers. 'We shall start to-morrow at "God is great," and anchor
at the evening prayer,' and so forth, they used to say.

It is difficult to estimate how far these coral reefs have changed since
ancient days; there is a lagoon at Berenice which looks as if it had been
the ancient harbour with a fort at its extremity. Now there are scarcely
two feet of water over the bar across its mouth; but all ancient accounts
bear testimony to a similar difficulty of navigation down this coast. At
the same time, it is manifest that this coast-line is just the one to
have tempted on the early mariners from point to point, with its rapid
succession of tiny harbours and its reefs protecting it from heavy seas.
More especially must this have been the case when the boats were
propelled by oars, and in one's mind's eye one can picture the fleets of
the Egyptian Queen Hatasou and of King Solomon from Eziongeber creeping
cautiously along this coast and returning after three years' absence in
far distant regions laden with precious freights of gold, frankincense,
and spices. In later days Strabo and Pliny tell us how flotillas of 120
ships proceeded from Myos Hormos to Okelis in thirty days on their way to
India, going together for fear of the pirates who marauded this coast,
and in those days the settlements on the Red Sea must have presented a
far livelier aspect than they do now.

On both shores we find a curious instance of the migration and adaptation
of an entirely foreign kind of boat. Some Arabs who have lived in
Singapore--and Singapore is as favourite a point for Arab emigration as
America is for the Irish--introduced 'dug-outs' in their native harbours,
and these have been found so useful in sailing over the shallow coral
reefs in search of pearls, that they now swarm in every Red Sea port, and
steamer-loads of 'dug-outs' are brought from the Malay peninsula. The
Arabs call them 'houris'--why, I cannot think--for a more uncomfortable
thing to sit in, when half full of water in a rolling surf, I never found
elsewhere, except on a South-East African river.

At the present moment the coast below Ras Bernas and above Sawakin is the
hot-bed of the slave trade, carried on between the Dervishes of the Nile
Valley and Arabia. Regular Egyptian coastguard boats keep matters pretty
clear north of Ras Bernas, and we can testify to their activity, for we
ourselves were boarded and searched by one; but south of this, before
the influence of Sawakin is reached, there is a long stretch of country
where the traffic in human flesh can be carried on undisturbed. Troops of
slaves are sent down from the Nile valley to the Dervish country at
certain seasons of the year, and the petty sheikhs along the coast, owing
a doubtful allegiance to the Egyptian Government, connive at this
transport; and the pearl-fishing craft which ply their trade amongst the
coral reefs are always ready to carry the slaves across to the opposite
coast, where the markets of Yembo, Jeddah, and Hodeida are open to them.
This will, of course, be the case until the Dervish power is crushed, and
the Soudan opened out for more legitimate trade. As we sailed along we
passed hundreds of these pearl-fishing boats engaged in this dual trade,
and nothing could be more propitious for their pursuits than the
absolutely lawless condition of the tribes by the coast. At Berenice, for
instance, there are absolutely no government or inhabitants of any sort.
Nominally, one of our Nile frontier subsidised sheikhs, Beshir Bey
Gabran, of Assouan, has authority over all the country between the Nile
and the Red Sea, but the coast has been visited more frequently by
Dervish emirs than by Beshir Bey. One Nasrai, a Dervish emir, is said to
have resided in the mountains behind Berenice for some time past, and,
with a small following, collects tithes of cattle from the nomads and
sees to the safe conduct of slave caravans. The collecting of _yusur_, or
black coral, as they call it, a fossilised vegetable growth, is a third
trade in which these boats are employed. From this pipes are made, and
beads, and the black veneer for inlaying tables.

The navigation of an Arab dhow is no easy task, with its clumsy
arrangements for sails, when there is a strong north wind behind it and
reefs in every direction. Three men are perpetually in the bows on the
look out for rocks, and indicate the presence of danger to the steersman
by raising their hands. The gear of these boats is exceedingly
primitive. They do not understand reefing a sail, hence they are obliged
to have no less than five different sizes, which they are constantly
changing as occasion requires. They use a clumsy cogwheel for raising and
lowering the sails, and do it all by main force, singing silly little
distiches and screaming at the top of their voices as they haul the
ropes. The arrangement for baling out the bilge water is extremely
laborious. A large trough, with channels on either side, is erected in
the centre of the boat, into the middle of which the water is baled by
skins from below, and the stenches during the process are truly awful, as
the water flows out of either channel, according to the roll of the ship.
There was always a large surface of wet wood to dry up.

Leaving Kosseir on the last day of 1895, we reached Ras Bernas on the
second day of 1896, stopping, of course, each night, always rolling and
tossing about, and always keeping a sharp look out for coral reefs, the
watchers shouting advice continually to Reis Hamaya.

We were supposed to owe our safety in getting through some dangerous
reefs, with not a yard to spare on either side, and escaping our other
difficulties, to the lucky fact of Reis Hamaya's having discovered
amongst the plants that my husband had collected in our walks ashore one
of the order of _Compositæ_, which he pounced on gladly and hung on the
bow of the _Taisir_, as a protection to us.

He pointed out another thing, a shrub called _tuldum_, with tiny yellow
flowers on green stalks, good to tie round the arm to make one see far.

Ras Bernas is a long, wandering cape composed of rocky hills of ironstone
and silicate curiously blended together, with shoals and rocks, and coral
reefs, and sandbanks hanging on to it in very shallow water. It is about
twenty-five miles long, and ends in a sandy spit.

We encamped at the head of the lagoon, and spent several days amongst the
ruins of this old Ptolemaic town of Berenice, and made sundry excavations
there. In its centre is an old temple of the date of Tiberius Cæsar, the
hieroglyphs in which are rapidly becoming obliterated. All around is a
sea of mounds covered with sand, where the houses stood, mostly built of
madrepore, and laid out in streets. On the surface are to be found
numerous glass beads, Roman coins, bracelets, &c. and a great number of
fragments of rough emeralds. From the celebrated emerald-mines in the
mountain behind we picked up fully fifty of these, besides a large
quantity of olivines or peridots, cornelians, and crystals, testifying to
the wealth of these parts in precious stones in ancient days.

A few startled Ababdeh nomads came to visit us; at first they only
inspected us at a distance, but gradually gained courage and came to our
camp, and we were able to purchase from them two lambs to replenish our
larder.

With its emerald-mines, its harbour, and its great road terminus Berenice
must have been one of the most important trade centres of the Red Sea;
though, judging from the plans of the streets we made out, the town
cannot have been a very large one. In digging we turned up immense
quantities of textiles in scraps, fine and coarse, nets, knitted work, as
well as weaving, plain and in colours, and bits of papyrus in Greek
cursive hand. The wretched Ababdeh tribes were constantly at war with one
another, and the Dervish Khalifa could make his authority felt about here
with a small handful of resolute men judiciously placed. Nasrai had, I
believe, done this for some time past with only thirty men.

The nights here were very cold, the thermometer going down to 46° F.
There were a few gazelles about, but we saw no other animals.

The Bedouin brought us large shell-fish in those great shells we see
polished at home. When boiled the fish comes out. It is in shape like a
camel's foot, and they call it ghemel. In taste it is like lobster and
oyster combined, but as tough as pin-wire.

We had a great tossing for three days after leaving Berenice, and
stopping every night.



CHAPTER XXIV

HALAIB AND SAWAKIN KADIM


It is hard to imagine anything more squalid than the Egyptian fortress of
Halaib, as it is spelt on the map, or Halei as it is pronounced, which
was our next halting-place, and from which we succeeded in getting a
little way inland. The governor, Ismael, has been there seven years; he
and his family inhabit some wicker cages near the small white fort, and
gathered round them are the huts of his soldiers and the cabins of a few
Bisharin, who live under the immediate protection of the fort. Ismael is
possessed of the only patch of cultivated land that we saw during the
whole of our expedition, where he grows gourds, peas, and aubergines or
brinjols. The man of most authority in the place is Mohammed Ali Tiout,
head of the Bisharin tribe of Achmed Orab. He appointed his son, a fine,
intelligent young fellow of five-and-twenty, called _the batran_ in the
local dialect, to act as our guide and protector during our exploration
of the Shellal range, which rises some miles inland at the back of
Halaib.

The people of this portion of the Soudan between the coast and the Nile
Valley, who do not own allegiance to the Khalifa, belong to the Morghani
confraternity of Mohammedans; their young religious sheikh, a
self-possessed, clever lad of about twenty, lives at Sawakin, and his
influence amongst the tribes not affecting Mahdism is supreme. He is
devoted to British interests, and no doubt in the present condition of
affairs his co-operation will be of great value. The Egyptian Government
instructed him to write to the sheikhs around Halaib and Mohammed Gol to
insure our safety, and to this fact I am convinced we owe the immunity
from danger we enjoyed, and the assistance given to us in penetrating
inland from Mohammed Gol. The Morghani have the three cicatrices on
either cheek, and as a confraternity they are not in the least fanatical,
and are well disposed to Christians; very different to the Arabs we met
in the Hadhramout, and very different to the Dervishes with whom they are
on such hostile terms.

While at Halaib I paid several visits to the wife and family of the
mamour or governor. They were very civil always, and used to kiss me.
They looked quite as unsettled in their airy brushwood arbours as if they
had not resided there steadily for seven years.

There were three huts about 12 feet by 8 feet, one being a kitchen. There
is a brushwood fence all round, part having a shed for the stores and
water jars. The wife is a Turk, and has one plain grown-up daughter.
There was an old lady who made coffee, and a black maid slightly draped
in a sheet once white, but now of a general deep grey, pure black in some
parts. I liked getting coffee and ginger best. The first day I had to
swallow, smiling, tea boiled and a little burnt.

All the furniture I saw was a 3-foot bed, three Austrian chairs, a very
common wooden table, and a little iron one with a new and tight pink
cotton cover and petticoat to the ground. All was very clean but the
maid.

The kind lady thought her dwelling so superior to mine that she begged me
to come and sleep in the bed with her in shelter from the wind; tents,
she said, were only fit for men. I did not envy her her home in the
drenching rain we had all night and half one day. She wore a string round
under one arm, with seven or eight charms like good-sized pincushions or
housewifes of different coloured silks.

We made two expeditions from Halaib; the first was to the ruins now known
as Sawakin Kadim, which are on the coast twelve miles north of Halaib. As
only six camels could be obtained we went by boat ourselves, leaving the
camels for the baggage. For this purpose we deserted the _Taisir_ and
hired a smaller _kattira_, and having gone as near as we could to land,
and been in considerable danger from coral reefs, on which we ran
suddenly, nearly capsizing, we took to the houri that we had towed
astern. It was very like sitting in a bath, and, after the houri, we had
to be carried a long way. We encamped not far from the shore, and had to
endure a dreadful _khamsin_ and dust-storm from the south, with such
violent wind that I was blown down, and Matthaios dug our beds out twice
with a trowel; and the next day we found the north wind nearly as bad.
Why it did not raise the sand I do not know.

Sawakin Kadim is like Berenice, nothing but a mass of mounds, but it must
at some time or another have been a much larger place. We excavated one
of these mounds, but found nothing earlier than Kufic remains, unless the
graves, which were constructed of four large blocks of madrepore sunk
deep into the ground, may be looked upon as a more ancient form of
sepulture. We opened several, but unfortunately they contained nothing
but bones. Originally this town must have been built on an island, or an
artificial moat must have been dug round it to protect it on the mainland
side; this is now silted up, but is traceable all along. Three large
cisterns for water are still in a fair state of preservation, and I am
told that a Kufic inscription was found here some years ago. There seems
no doubt that this town is the one mentioned by the Arab geographers,
Abou'lfida and Edrisi, by the name of Aydab, which was a place of
considerable importance between Ras Bernas and Sawakin. There are no
traces elsewhere along this coast of any other town, consequently we can
fairly place it here. Abou'lfida says: 'Aydab is a town in the land of
Bedja; it is politically dependent on Egypt, though some say it is in
Abyssinia. This is the meeting-place for the merchants of Yemen and the
pilgrims, who, leaving Egypt, prefer the sea route and embark for Yedda.
In other respects Aydab has more the aspect of a village than a town, and
it is seven days' march north of Sawakin, where the chief of the Bedjas
lives.' Counting a day's march at twenty-five miles, this would place it
near Halaib, which is 170 miles north of Sawakin. Hitherto on our maps
Aydab has been placed near Mohammed Gol, but, as there are no traces of
ruins there except the towers to which we shall presently allude, this
position for an ancient town is untenable.

Edrisi tells us: 'At the extremity of the desert and on the borders of
the salt sea is Aydab, whence one crosses to Yedda in one day and one
night. Aydab has two governors, one appointed by the chief of the Bedja,
and the other by the princes of Egypt.' From the fact that Aydab is
mentioned by none of the earlier geographers it would appear not to have
been one of the Ptolemaic settlements, but a town of purely Arab origin.
The people of Bedja, so often alluded to by these Arabian geographers,
seem to have had considerable power, and to have occupied all the Soudan
and as far north as Berenice, being probably the precursors of the
Bisharin Amara tribes, which wander now over this desert country. They
were the recognised guardians of the old gold-mines which existed in this
district, and concerning which I have more to say presently; and though
vassals of the Egyptian kaliphs, nevertheless they seem to have had
considerable local authority, and to have carried on wars on their own
account.

It is a curious fact that in the Aksumite inscriptions we come across an
account of wars and victories by the old Ethiopian monarchs over the
peoples of Kasuh and Bega to the north of Abyssinia, which peoples
Professor D. H. Müller identifies with the people of Kush and the Bedja
alluded to by the Arab geographers.

In course of time the Bedjas seem to have disappeared from the face of
the earth and left nothing but their tombs and a few ruined towns behind
them; and for some centuries it would appear that the coast of the Red
Sea north of Sawakin was uninhabited until in later years came fresh
colonists from the Nile Valley, whose descendants still occupy it.

The tribal traditions of the district are all that we have now to rely
upon regarding the immigration of new inhabitants, and they state that
two brothers with their families, one named Amer and the other Amar, came
from the Nile Valley near Wadi Halfa, and settled along the coast of the
Red Sea; from them are descended the Beni Amer and Amara tribes of
Bedouin. These brothers were followed in due course by four other
brothers, Ali, Kourb, Nour, and Gueil, from whom the tribes and
sub-tribes of the Aliab, Kourbab, Nourab, and Gueilior are respectively
descended. These tribes have never been anything but pastoral nomads,
living in miserable mat huts, and spreading themselves over the district
at wide intervals in search of pasture for their flocks. They entirely
disown having anything to do with the remains of buildings and tombs
found in their midst.



CHAPTER XXV

INLAND FROM MERSA HALAIB


When we returned to Halaib we encamped preparatory to going inland. Great
doctoring had to be done over the hand of Ahmet Farraj, our clown. He had
held a large hook overboard, with a bait, but no line, and a shark 7 feet
long was caught and hauled on board. The shark bit the man's first finger
badly. Various remedies were applied by the sailors in turns--tar,
grease, earth, and other things--and it was in a very bad state when
brought to us. It was quite cured eventually, but we were afraid of
blood-poisoning. When I began cleaning it most tenderly he scraped it out
with a stick, and his friends dipped stones in the warm water and soundly
scrubbed the surrounding inflamed parts. My husband prescribed a washing
all over with hot water and stones. He was afterwards quite a different
colour.

Our second expedition was to Shellal. We took two days on our way
thither, passing through clouds of locusts--that is to say, they were in
clouds on our return, but were young and in heaps when we first saw them.
We stayed at Shellal several days, for my husband thought as we could get
no further in that direction on account of the danger of the Dervishes,
it was as well that we, and especially Captain Smyth, should make as many
expeditions thence as possible. We heard so many contradictory reports,
but little thought how imminent the war was.

After our somewhat long experience of life on a dhow we were delighted to
become Bedou once more, and wander amongst the fine rocky range of
mountains, but we were disappointed that our guide would not take us far
behind this range for fear of the Dervishes; and, as shortly after the
outbreak of the war a party of Dervishes came right down to Halaib, there
is every reason to believe that had we gone far inland at this point we
might have been compelled to pay the Khalifa a not over-pleasant visit at
Omdurman.

Wadi Shellal and the adjacent mountains of Shendeh, Shindoeh, and Riadh
form a _cul de sac_ as far as camels are concerned, and only difficult
mountain paths lead over into the Soudan from here. As far as we could
see the country did not look very tempting or promise much compensation
for the difficulties of transit. We were taken by the Batran to a few
spots where there had been ancient habitations; they probably belonged to
the Kufic period, and were doubtless military stations to protect the
small hamlets scattered at the foot of these mountains, when Aydab was a
place of some importance, from the incursion of hostile tribes from the
interior.

Shellal itself reaches an elevation of 4,100 feet; Shindeh, 4,500 feet;
Riadh, 4,800 feet; and Asortriba or Sorturba to the south seems, though
we did not get its elevation, to be the highest of the group.

[Illustration: ELBA MOUNTAINS FROM SHELLAL]

On our return to Halaib we passed a Bisharin encampment, consisting of
half a dozen beehive huts made of matting on rounded sticks. The women
were weaving rough cloths at the door of one of them, and were dressed in
long sheets which once may have been white, but are now the colour of
dirt. They had glass beads and cowries tied to their matted locks, and
brass and silver rings of considerable size fastened to their noses; the
small children ran about naked, with waistbands of leather straps, on
which were strung long agate and carnelian beads, with cowrie danglements
hanging down in front. They seemed very poor, and the old ladies to whom
my husband gave pinches of tobacco were so effusive in their gratitude
that for some moments he feared his generosity was to be rewarded by a
kiss.

Our net results from the excursions from Halaib were more or less of a
negative character. The mountain scenery was grand, and the climate
exquisite, but, from our observations, we came to the conclusion that at
no time was this country of much use to anybody, and that it never had
been thickly inhabited, the existence of Aydab being probably due to its
position as a convenient port opposite Arabia for the inhabitants of the
Nile Valley. Water is, and probably always has been, very scarce here,
and, except after the rains, this country is little better than a desert.

The Bishari of the Akhmed Orab tribe, who inhabit the mountains, are
exceedingly few in number, and the Batran told us that all the way from
Ras Bernas to Mount Sorturba, just south of Shellal, over which country
his rule extends, the whole tribe could muster only about three hundred
fighting men. They have the Ababdeh to the north, and the Amara Bisharin
to the south, and apparently their relations with their neighbours are
usually strained. These tribes are purely pastoral, and cultivate no land
whatsoever. They live in huts in groups of from three to six together,
and are scattered over the country at wide intervals. They wear their
hair fuzzy at the top, with a row of curls hanging down the neck, usually
white and stiff with mutton fat. They are medium-sized, dark-skinned, and
some of them decidedly handsome. They are girt only with a loin-cloth and
sheet, and every shepherd here carries his shield and his sword. Under a
good and settled government they would undoubtedly be excellent members
of society, but with the Khalifa on one side and the Egyptian Government
on the other their position is by no means an enviable one. Their huts
are very small and dingy, being constructed with bent sticks on which
palm-leaf matting is stretched; inside they are decorated with their
paraphernalia for weddings and camel-travelling, all elaborately
decorated with cowrie and other shells, the most remarkable of these
things being the tall conical hats with long streamers used for dances at
weddings, entirely covered with cowrie shells in pretty patterns. The
things they use for hanging up food are also prettily decorated with
shells and strips of red and blue cloth. The family occupying a hut sleep
on mats in the inner part, with the usual wooden African pillows, and
around the outer edge of the hut are collected their wooden bowls for
sour milk, their skins for water, their incense-burners, and their
limited number of household utensils. Often when he goes off to distant
pasturages a Bishari will pack up his tent and household gods and leave
them in a tree, where he will find them quite safe on his return. They
live principally on milk and the products of their flocks, water being to
them a far more precious article than milk. They are very knowledgeable
in the mountain shrubs and herbs, and pointed out to us many which they
eat for medicinal and other purposes; but the only one of these which we
appreciated was a small red gourd climbing amongst the mimosa branches,
resembling a tomato, _Cephalandra Indica_. This they call _gourod_, their
usual word for gourd. Also they are, like the akridophagoi whom
Agatharchides places on their coast, large consumers of locusts when in
season; they catch them only when they have reached the flying stage, and
roast them in the ashes. We often saw clouds of locusts in this district,
devouring all the scanty herbage and literally filling the air.

For many years past the Egyptian authority in these parts has been _nil_,
and confined only to a few wretched forts on the coast. Dervish raids
from the interior and the stoppage of whatever caravan trade there ever
was have contributed to the miserable condition of affairs now existing.

One can well understand why these miserable hounded tribes are wavering
in their allegiance between the Egyptian Government and the Khalifa, whom
they dread, and why they countenance the slave-traders, for the reason
that they have no power to resist them.

For all practical purposes it is a wretched country, waterless during a
great part of the year, except where some deep ancient wells, scattered
at wide intervals over the country, form centres where camels and flocks
can be watered; and as we travelled along we were struck by the numbers
of these wells which had been quite recently abandoned. But the mountains
are magnificently grand, sharp in outline like Montserrat in Spain, and
with deep and lovely gorges. Formerly they abounded in mines, and were
celebrated for their mineral wealth, and if there is ever to be a revival
in this country it will be from this source that hope will come.

We had such strong wind when we went to sea again that we feared we
should not be able to start, but we got away after all, rising up early
to be dressed before we were shaken about; but we forgot to empty our
basins, and they emptied themselves into our beds, and all the luggage
banged about and the kitchen things went all over the place, including
the 'range,' consisting of two little stoves in paraffin-cans, but we got
on splendidly till we began to turn into Mersa or Khor Shinab, as the
Bisharin call it; the Arab name is Bishbish.

Khor Shinab is a typical specimen of a _mersa_; it is cruciform, and is
entered by a narrow passage between the reefs, about 20 feet across, and
runs sinuously inland for about two miles, and is never more than a
quarter of a mile wide.

We had the second-sized sail up, but that had to be taken down and a
smaller tried; the sheet of this soon gave way, and the sail went up in
the air with the block and tore all across. This was a frightful sight,
as we were among coral reefs. The sailors flew about, casting off
garments in all directions. A smaller sail tore up in a few moments, and
we were stuck on a reef. Then the smallest sail of all was taken out of
its bag, and that got us off with some grating, the captain and some
others standing on the reef on the port side with water half up to their
knees, pushing with all their might. There were fourteen fathoms under us
to starboard. The little sail soon gave way at the top and fell into the
water.

One anchor was sent out in a boat and then another, and when they tried
to get up the first it was so entangled that they were a long time over
it, and one of the five flukes was broken. We were kept off the reef by
poles all this time. That broken anchor was then taken ashore, and we
were very thankful to be safe.

The flat ground for miles inland is composed of nothing but madrepore,
and is covered with semi-fossilised sea-shells, which have probably not
been inhabited for thousands of years. We walked over this for three
miles before reaching the first spurs of the mountains, and it is
impossible to conceive a more barren or arid spot. Khor Shinab is a
well-known resort for slave-trading craft; small boats can easily hide in
its narrow creeks and escape observation.

We stayed two days while the sails were mended on the shore, and it was
hours and hours before the anchor that was in the reef could be got up
and fastened to the dry land. We did try to get out to sea again, but the
north wind was raging so we could not do it, and, besides, the sailors
were very unwilling to start, as a raven was sitting on the bow.



CHAPTER XXVI

MOHAMMED GOL


At Mohammed Gol, to which port our dhow next conducted us, our prospects
of getting well into the interior were much brighter, and our ultimate
results beyond comparison more satisfactory than they had been at Halaib.
Mohammed Gol is distinctly a more lively place than Halaib, possessing
more huts, more soldiers, and actually a miniature bazaar where, strange
to relate, we were able to buy something we wanted.

The houses at Mohammed Gol are larger than those at Halaib, and one can
stand up in some parts of nearly all of them.

The fort is surrounded by a very evil-smelling moat, and the village
situated on a damp plain, white with salt. When we made a camp on shore
later we went well beyond this plain.

In the summer season, when the waters of the Red Sea are low, traders
come to Mohammed Gol for salt. The salterns are situated on the narrow
spit of land called Ras Rowaya; consequently, the people about here are
more accustomed to the sight of Europeans, and Mohammed Effendi, the
governor, or mamour of the little Egyptian garrison, who is young and
energetic, seems far more in touch with the world than Ismael of Halaib.
He complained much of the dulness of his post, and passed his weary hours
in making walking-sticks out of ibex horns, a craft he had learnt from
the Bedouin of Mount Erba, who soften the horns in hot water, grease
them, pull them out and flatten them with weights and polish them, using
them as camel sticks. The governor gave us several of these sticks, and
also presented an ibex-horn head-scratcher to me, remarking as he did so,
with a polite gesture, that it was a nice thing to have by me when my
head itched. He was a little and very dark man, with a pleasant, honest
face, and three transverse scars across his cheeks, each about two inches
long. His secretary was yet smaller, and decorated in the same way. The
chief of the police was a very fat, good-humoured man, with two little
perpendicular cuts beside each eye. These are tribal marks.

There was great palavering about our journey into the interior. Though
several travellers had visited the Red Sea side of the massive group of
Mount Erba on holidays from Sawakin in search of sport, no one had as yet
been behind it, and thither we intended to go. The governor had summoned
three sheikhs from the mountains, into whose hands he confided us. The
day we first landed I thought I never had beheld such scowling,
disagreeable faces, but afterwards we became good friends. My husband and
I went ashore the second day, and sat in a sort of audience-arbour near
the madrepore pier, and many maps were drawn on the ground with
camel-sticks, and we were quite proud that my husband was able to settle
it all with no interpreter.

Sheikh Ali Debalohp, the chief of the Kilab tribe, was to take us to his
district, Wadi Hadai and Wadi Gabeit, some way inland at the back of the
Erba mountains, which group we insisted on going entirely round. He was a
tall, fine specimen of a Bishari sheikh, with his neck terribly scarred
by a burn, to heal which he had been treated in hospital at Sawakin. He
is, as we learnt later, a man of questionable loyalty to the Egyptian
Government, and supposed to be more than half a Dervish; this may be
owing to the exigencies of his position, for more than half his tribe
living in the Wadi Hayet are of avowed allegiance to the Khalifa, and
Debalohp's authority now only extends over the portion near the coast. As
far as we could see his intentions towards us were strictly honourable,
and he treated us throughout our expedition in a much more
straightforward manner than either of the other two.

Sheikh number two was Mohammed, the son of Ali Hamed, head sheikh of a
branch of the great Kurbab tribe. As his father was too old and infirm to
accompany us, he took his place. He was an exceedingly dirty and
wild-looking fellow, with a harsh, raucous voice, and his statements were
not always reliable. We have reason to believe that his father is much
interested in the slave-trade, and therefore not too fond of Europeans;
but these sheikhs by the coast are generally obliged to be somewhat
double in their dealings, and, when anything can be gained by it, affect
sincere friendship for the English.

Sheikh number three bore the name of Hassan Bafori, and is _wagdab_ or
chief of another branch of the Kurbabs, and his authority extends over
the massive group of Mount Erba and Kokout. He is a man who seems to
revel in telling lies, and we never could believe a word he said. Besides
these head-men we had several minor sheikhs with us, and two soldiers
sent by the mamour from his garrison at Mohammed Gol to see that we were
well treated. Hence our caravan was of considerable dimensions when we
took our departure from Mohammed Gol on February 6.

He of the Kilab tribe, Ali Debalohp, was the most important of them, and
he took one of his wives with him; all had their servants and
shield-bearers, and most of them were wild, unprepossessing looking men,
with shaggy locks and lard-daubed curls, and all of them were, I
believe, thorough ruffians, who, as we were told afterwards, would
willingly have sold us to the Dervishes had they thought they would have
gained by the transaction. These things officials told us when we reached
Sawakin; but, to do our guides justice, I must say they treated us very
well, and inasmuch as we never believed a word they said, the fact that
they were liars made but little difference to us.

Some of the men had very fine profiles, and one was very handsome. Their
hair is done something like the Bisharin's--that is, with a fuz standing
up on the top, but the hanging part is not curled; the white tallow with
which they were caked, made them look as if their heads were surrounded
with dips.

I asked why the tallow was put on. One said to make one strong, another
to make one see far, and a third reason was that the hair might not
appear black.

We had fourteen camels for ourselves and two for the police who came with
us. The mamour was in European uniform, with a red shawl wound round his
head, and sat on a very smart inlaid saddle which came up to his waist in
front and reached to his shoulder-blades. The chief of the police did not
come, he being, as he told us, far too fat.

We were to fill all our waterskins from a remarkably fine well of
particularly sweet water at Hadi, so we took only a couple of skinfuls
with us.



CHAPTER XXVII

'DANCING ON TOM TIDDLER'S GROUND, PICKING UP GOLD'


Little did we dream when we left Mohammed Gol with our rather extensive
caravan that behind that gigantic mountain, which though it only reaches
an elevation of 7,500 feet, looks considerably higher from the sea as it
rises almost directly out of the level plain, we were to find an ancient
Egyptian gold-mine, the ruins in connection with which would offer us the
first tangible comparison to the ruins which had exercised our minds so
much in the gold-fields of South Africa.

Some miles inland on the plain behind Mohammed Gol are certain mysterious
towers, some 20 feet high, of unknown origin. They have every appearance
of belonging to the Kufic period, being domed and covered with a strong
white cement. They have no doors, but have windows high up: some are
hexagonal, some square, and they are apparently dotted all along the
coast. Whether they were tombs, or whether they were landmarks to guide
mariners to certain valleys leading into the mountains, will probably not
be definitely proved until someone is energetic enough to excavate in
one. They are found as far south as Massawa, but as far as we could
ascertain those we saw were the most northern ones. In one we found two
skeletons of modern date, with the scanty clothing still clinging to the
bones, as they had lain in the agonies of death, poor sick creatures, who
had climbed in to die.

The tower of Asafra, which marks the entrance to the Hadi Valley, is
about 20 feet high, and is octagonal. It struck us, from its position at
the entrance of the valley system to the north of Mount Erba, that its
original object had been a landmark which would be seen from the sea; had
it been a tomb it would not have had the windows, and had it been either
a tomb or a fort it would have had a door. There we halted, and bade
adieu to the governors and officials of Mohammed Gol, who had accompanied
us thus far. Our parting was almost dramatic, and the injunctions to the
sheikh to see to our safety were reiterated with ever additional
vehemence, the mamour holding my husband's hand all the time.

Near the well of Hadi are numerous ancient structures of a different
nature and more puzzling to account for. Circular walls, from 10 to 14
feet in diameter and 3 feet high, have been built, some in the valleys
and some high up on the hills. The interiors of these have been filled
with stones, the largest of which are in the centre, and in the middle of
these large stones is a depression a foot or so deep. They certainly
looked like tombs of some departed race, especially as they were
generally placed in groups of two or three, and they resembled the tombs
in the north of Abyssinia, except that those are filled with mounds of
small stones, whereas these have larger stones and a depression in the
centre. The water turned out to be rather like port wine to look at, full
of little fish, tadpoles, and leeches. We put alum in a bucket to
precipitate the worst mud, then filtered it without making it clear, but
it was a tremendous improvement. I think there really was a better
water-place near, but we did not find it. Bad as it was, water was taken
for three days, as they said we should see none for that time. As a
matter of fact, I think the people did not want us to know the
water-places.

We had a very warm night at Hadi, our tent, beds, and even clothes
swarmed with beetles.

On February 7 we started for Gumatyewa. All day we went among little
pointed hills, some, indeed many, marked with most curious veins of
ironstone, sometimes in cross-bars. We soon reached a place in the Wadi
Gumatyewa, whence a camel to our surprise was sent for water, and was not
very long away, so water cannot have been far off. The rest of the camels
were unloaded, and we sat and waited under some trees. In fact, we could
have camped near water each of the days which we took getting to Hadai.

The sheikhs generally encamped at a little distance from us, and as they
were given to nocturnal conversations and monotonous noises which they
called singing, we were glad they were not too near.

We gradually ascended as we followed the valleys inland, after the Wadi
Iroquis, until on the fourth day we came to a curious narrow winding
pass, about six miles long, which just left room between the rocks for
our camels to walk in single file. This pass, which is called Todin,
landed us on a small plateau about 2,000 feet above the sea-level, where
we found a large number of the circular remains. Todin is one of the most
important approaches into the Soudan on the north side of the Erba group,
and is practicable the whole way for camels, from which we never once had
occasion to dismount, though going down might not be so pleasant. Before
reaching the pass of Todin we passed a most curious mountain, seeming to
block up the valley. It looked rather like a rhinoceros feeding among the
acacia-trees.

Taking this country generally, I can safely say it is as uninteresting
and arid a country as any we have ever visited. Our way perpetually led
through valleys winding between low brown mountains, the dry river beds
of which were studded here and there with acacia-trees. Occasionally one
got a glimpse of the majestic spurs of Erba, and occasionally a fantastic
rock or a hill-slope a trifle greener than the rest would temporarily
raise our spirits.

As for water, we had the greatest difficulty about it, and our guides
always enveloped its existence with a shroud of mystery. Men would be
sent off to the hills with a camel, and return to the camp with skins of
water from somewhere, probably from gulleys where rain-water still lay;
but until we reached Wadi Hadai, after a ride of six days, we never saw
water with our own eyes after leaving Hadi. More water can be obtained by
digging. There is a great deal of _Mesembryanthemum_ about, which
probably supplies the place of water to most of the animals living in
these regions. A good many doves came to drink at the water in the
evening.

Two days more brought us to Wadi Hadai, where we were to halt awhile to
rest the camels. On the hill immediately above us was the circular fort,
with its door to the east, to which I shall later allude, and on the
plain below was another and smaller Kufic tower, several round buildings,
and large stones erected on several of the adjacent hills evidently to
act as landmarks. Also here we saw many graves of the Debalohp
family--neat heaps of white stones, with a double row of white stones
forming a pattern around them, and a headstone towards Mecca, on one of
which was a rude Arabic inscription. These tombs reminded us very
forcibly of the Bogos tombs in Northern Abyssinia, and evidently point to
a kinship of custom.

The place where we stayed in a wood of thorny trees was at the branching
of two valleys. We always had cold nights, but our widely spread camp
looked cheery enough with eight fires; there were so many different
parties.

Once we got into Wadi Hadai we were in Debalohp's country. He was chief
of the large and powerful Kilab tribe, half of which owns avowed
allegiance to the Khalifa, and the other half, with their chief, is put
down as wavering by the Government at Sawakin. Luckily we did not know
this at the time, or otherwise I question if we should have ventured to
put ourselves so entirely in his hands, with the horrors of a visit to
Khartoum, as experienced by Slatin Pasha, so fresh in our memories.

At Hadai for the first time during the whole of our journey our interests
were keenly aroused in certain antiquities we found--antiquities about
which Debalohp had said a good deal, but about which we had never
ventured to indulge any hopes.

Hard by the Debalohp mausoleum was another Kufic tower, though much
smaller than those we had seen on the coast, and not covered with white
cement, and in the same locality were several foundations of circular
buildings very neatly executed in dry masonry, which appeared to have at
either end the bases of two circular towers and curious bulges, which at
once reminded us of our South African ruins. On climbing an adjacent hill
we found a circular fort, evidently constructed for strategical purposes,
with a doorway, the ends of the wall being rounded, quite a counterpart
of the smaller ruin on the Lundi river in Mashonaland. The analogy was
indeed curious, and we talked about it hesitatingly to ourselves, as yet
unable to give any satisfactory reason for its existence. On various
heights around were cairns erected as if for landmarks, and we felt that
here at last we were in the presence of one of those ancient mysteries
which it is so delightful to solve.

We had as interpreter from Arabic to Hadendowa, as none of our party
understood that language, the sheikh whose name was Hassan Bafori. He
brought three coursing dogs with him. We had also with us a certain
Annibàle Piacentini as general odd man. He was really Italian, but had
lived so long among Greeks in Suez that he was always called Annibale. He
talked Greek with my husband, Mattaios, and me, and English with the
others, besides Arabic.

We rested our camels and our men at Hadai, and drank of some fresh water
from a little pool, the first we had seen in this barren country, which
was supplied by a tiny stream that made its appearance for a few yards in
a sheltered corner of the valley, a stream of priceless value in this
thirsty land. Debalohp suggested to my husband that he knew of some ruins
in a neighbouring valley to which he could take him, but it was not
without considerable hesitation that he decided to go. A long day's ride
in this hot country, supposed to be almost, if not quite, within the
Dervish sphere of influence, was not lightly to be undertaken, more
especially as he had been on so many fruitless errands in search of ruins
at suggestions of the Bedouin, and returned disgusted, and when he
mounted his camel next morning, without any hope of finding anything, and
sure of a fatiguing day, had a reasonable excuse offered itself, he would
probably not have gone. But the unexpected in these cases is always
happening. The long ride turned out only to be one of three hours. Wadi
Gabeit was somewhat more fertile and picturesque than any we had as yet
seen, and as a climax to it all came the discovery of an ancient
gold-mine, worked in ages long gone by doubtless by that mysterious race
whose tombs and buildings we had been speculating upon.

Diodorus, in his account of an old Egyptian gold-mine, describes most
accurately what my husband found in the Wadi Gabeit. For miles along it
at the narrower end were the ruins of miners' huts; both up the main
valley and up all the collateral ones there must have been seven or eight
hundred of them at the lowest computation. Then there were hundreds of
massive crushing-stones, neatly constructed out of blocks of basalt,
which had been used for breaking the quartz, lying in wild confusion
amongst the ruined huts, and by the side of what once was a stream, but
is now only a sandy, choked-up river-bed. On a high rock in the middle of
the valley he found a trifle of a Greek inscription scratched by a miner,
who had evidently been working the rich quartz vein just below it.

On an eminence behind the valley was another of the circular forts in
ruins, similar to the one on the hill above Wadi Hadai, intended
evidently for a look-out post to protect the miners at work below. Burnt
quartz and refuse of quartz lay around in all directions, and on either
side of the valley, stretched for a mile or more, were seams of the
auriferous quartz just as it had been laid bare by the ancient workers.
There was no question for a moment that he had come across the centre of
a great mining industry, lost in these desert valleys behind the mighty
wall by which Mount Erba and its spurs shuts off this district from the
Red Sea littoral.

Naturally he felt rather startled at being confronted with this
unexpected discovery, and in the short space of time then available it
was impossible to grasp it all. So he rode back joyfully to tell the news
to his party at Hadai. He told Debalohp that he had decided that we
should move our camp thither, and stay as long as it was possible.

Difficulties again confronted us. Our two Kourbab sheikhs did not want to
go. Sheikh Mohammed Ali Hamid was anxious to get on to his own country,
and Sheikh Hassan Bafori quite set his face against our going at all, and
Debalohp himself had to be firmly spoken to. An extra present to him was
what finally helped us, and at length we all made a start on the
following day to my husband's new El Dorado.

We had become rather confused as to dates, and there was a difference of
two days that we could not be in unity about. Before setting out for Wadi
Gabeit we consumed for breakfast the artificial horizon that Captain
Smyth had used for taking our latitude the night before. It was very
good; it was golden syrup instead of quicksilver.

Wadi Gabeit was just a trifle better than the country we had passed
through, having finer trees in the valley beds; and here we saw the first
colony of natives since leaving Mohammed Gol, consisting only of three
huts of pastoral Kilabs, which will give an idea of how sparsely this
country is inhabited. Debalohp's huts were certainly somewhere in the
vicinity of Hadai, not more than an hour away, but for some reason known
only to himself he would not take us there, though he went there himself
every night, and when he joined us on our way to Wadi Gabeit he brought
with him another wife, having evidently had enough of the other's company
on his journey from Mohammed Gol.

Their camping arrangements were never luxurious. The Mrs. Debalohp used
to hoist a mat on a spear, to keep off the wind. Mr. Debalohp used to lie
on another mat in the open, surrounded by his weapons.

The huts we saw were made of sail-cloth, and were very neat inside. There
is a passage all round where pots and baskets are kept, and within that a
square room made of matting with a mat floor. One side of this is the
sleeping apartment, and is entirely hung round with meat-safes, dancing
hats, and camel trappings, all adorned with shells and beads. The huts
are so small that it must be difficult to lie at full length.

I bought a gazelle-trap from these people. It consisted of a circle of
thin sticks, 6 or 7 inches across, bound round and round with bark.
Between the bindings are set little thin sticks like a wheel, but
crossing each other thickly in the middle. This is put under a tree over
a hole, the noose of a long rope laid round it and the rope tied to the
tree; the whole is covered with earth. When the gazelle comes to eat he
steps into the hole. By the time he has disengaged himself from the trap
he is caught in the noose, and a cross stick, 3 or 4 feet long, tied
about a foot from the end of the rope, prevents him getting through
bushes.

A short time before reaching our goal we were met by a small band of
natives, who tried to stop our advance with menaces, which we were
determined neither to understand nor recognise. Possibly they were some
of the Kilab tribe, who owned allegiance to the Dervishes; possibly they
were actuated by the inherent dread the Moslem has of Christian
enterprise reaching their secluded vales. However, our show of firearms
and determination to go on had the effect of intimidating them, and after
a somewhat feeble hostile demonstration and many palavers, we found
ourselves comfortably established in our tents in the heart of the
ancient industry, and peacefully distributing medicines from our chest to
our whilom foes.

The encounter was amusing to look back on afterwards, but by no means so
at the time; the yelling and brandishing of spears and shields and the
parleying of Hassan Bafori and Mohammed Ali Hamid, who went forward, and
the earnest wishes for the presence of Sheikh Ali Debalohp, who had gone
round by his home to join us later. We and our camels were led back, but
we dismounted and went nearer in a body, and then our firearms were
distributed, and my husband, saying he would wait no longer, went past
them, we all following. He fortunately knew the way. After a bit our
camels came, and we were soon in the Wadi Gabeit. Knowing where the water
was, in a little rocky pool, my husband went straight over to it, and
ordered that the water-skins should be filled at once, in case of any
difficulties. My husband and I and Mr. Cholmley went for a little walk
round a small hill, and then I said I would go back alone to the small,
oval valley. Just round a corner I came face to face with all the enemy,
on foot and on camels.

I walked smiling to the worst old man, grasped his hand, and wished him a
happy day. He started back, wrenched away his hand, waving me away,
though Hassan tried to make him shake hands. The soldiers rushed forward,
and I sat on a rock laughing at him, and saying I wanted to look at them.
They all seated themselves close by. Captain Smyth, who had gone around
making a reconnaissance, now arrived, his servant Hamid having galloped
back on a camel to fetch him. He thought I was the only survivor. I told
him the story before them, and imitated the old gentleman, pointing him
out, and they all laughed when I asked how we could be afraid of them
when they were so much afraid of me.

They all shouted 'Peace! peace!' (salaam! salaam!) 'aman! aman!'
(mercy!)--and subsequently came in a body to our tent to impress upon me
that _I_ need fear no longer--we were friends.

The real truth was that we were now very near, if not quite in, the
territory of that branch of the Kilab tribe which owns allegiance to the
Dervishes; when Captain Smyth rode ahead next day to take observations
from a hill called Darurba, Mohamed Ali Hamed, who accompanied him, made
him dress up in a sheet and pretend to be an Arab woman when they came in
sight of some people whom he declared to be Dervishes.

We were told of a native who had lately found a gold nugget whilst
digging in the sand. The veins of quartz, particularly on the southern
side of the valley, are very marked, and the chiselling by which the
miners had followed up their veins could easily be seen; it would appear
that the workings here had been of a very extensive character, and the
output of gold in some remote period must have been very large.

We were conducted to a hill about two miles from our camp, where there
are old cuttings in the quartz, some of them going a considerable depth
underground, and blocks of quartz were still standing there ready to be
broken up; also we saw several crushing-stones here, but there were no
traces of miners' huts, so presumably the quartz was removed to the
valley below.

On the rocks near the cuttings we saw many rude drawings, one of a parrot
and several of gazelles, evidently done by the workmen with their
chisels.

In referring to records of the ancient gold-mines of Egypt, we find that
a mine existed in the Wadi Allaki, some days south of Komombo, in the
Bishari district. This mine was visited and identified by MM. Linant and
Bonomi; there they found an excavation 180 feet deep, handmills similar
to ours, and traces of about three hundred miners' huts, also several
Kufic inscriptions on a rock. The mines, Edrisi tells us, were twelve
days inland from Aydab. We must therefore look elsewhere for a notice of
another mine nearer the Red Sea. Edrisi makes two mentions of these mines
of Allaki, in one of which he says they are in a deep valley at the foot
of a mountain; in another he alludes to them as on an open plain. On
turning to Abu'lfida, we find him relating 'that Allaki is a town of
Bedja; the country of Bedja is in the neighbourhood of the Red Sea. One
finds there pearl-fisheries which do not give much profit, but in the
mountain of Allaki is a mine of gold, which covers the cost of working.
The mountain of Allaki is very celebrated.' Hence it would seem that two
different spots are alluded to both under the name of Allaki, from both
of which gold was obtained, one inland and one near the Red Sea.
Professor de Goeje, of Leyden, the greatest authority on early Arabian
literature, pointed out to my husband further discrepancies in the
distances from Aydab to the gold-mines of Allaki in early Arab
geographers, and suggests that the mines found by MM. Bonomi and Linant
and ours, though several hundred miles apart, may have belonged to the
same reef, and have been known by the same name.

In M. Chabas' 'Inscriptions des Mines d'Or' we have a very interesting
dissertation on an ancient Egyptian plan of a gold-mine on a papyrus in
the museum of Turin, of the time of Seti I., which he thus describes:
'Unfortunately, the name of the locality, which the plan gives us under
the form _Ti, ou, oi_, the phonetic signs of which form a confused
combination, does not give us any clue. We must therefore limit ourselves
to the conclusion that this map, the most ancient that exists in the
world, represents to us an auriferous vein in a desert mountain situated
to the east of Higher Egypt, and very near the Red Sea. The shells spread
on the path leading to it are a proof that the sea is very near; we can
only think of the Red Sea, the shores of which abound in coral, in
sponge, and shells variegated with the most beautiful colours.'

There seems every probability that the mine discovered by my husband was
the one illustrated by the most ancient plan in the world, and, curiously
enough, the Greek inscription we found seems to give a combination of
vowels closely resembling the name given on the plan. On Egyptian
inscriptions we constantly read of the gold of Kush, and that the prince
of Kush was always interfered with in his works by the want of water, and
from the Arab geographers we learn that they were finally abandoned by
the caliphs owing to the want of water for washing purposes, and as far
back as the reign of Usertesen we get illustrations of their washing
process. Diodorus gives us a vivid description of the gangs of captives
and convicts employed in these mines, and the miserable cruelty with
which they were goaded on to work until they died of fatigue. He also
gives some interesting details as to the processes of abstracting gold,
which tally well with what we saw on the spot. 'They burn the quartz and
make it soft,' which will account for the quantity of burnt quartz which
we saw; and again, 'they take the quarried stone and pound it in stone
mortars with iron pestles.' Mr. Rudler examined the specimens of quartz
we brought home, and describes it as 'vein quartz, more or less ochreous
with oxide of iron suggestive of auriferous quartz,' and told us that,
unless we were going to start a company, there was no necessity to get it
assayed; for archæological purposes the presence of gold was sufficiently
established.

Will this mine ever be available again for those in search of the
precious mineral? is the first question that suggests itself.
Unfortunately being no gold expert, I am absolutely unable to give an
opinion as to the possibilities of the still existing quartz seams being
payable or not, but there is abundance of it both in the Wadi Gabeit and
in the collateral valleys, and it is improbable that the ancients with
their limited knowledge of mining could have exhausted the place.
Specimens of quartz that my husband picked up at haphazard have been
assayed and found to be auriferous, with the gold very finely
disseminated; an expert would undoubtedly have selected even more
brilliant specimens than these. Against this the absence of water and
labour seemed to us at the time to negative any possible favourable
results; but, on the other hand, the mine is so conveniently near the
sea, with comparatively easy road access, that labour might be imported;
and such wonderful things are done nowadays with artesian wells that, if
the experts report favourably upon it, there would be every chance of
good work being done, and these desert mountains of the Soudan might
again ring with the din of industry.

The morning after we reached Wadi Gabeit an express messenger reached us
from Sawakin, bidding us return to the coast at once, as we were supposed
to be in considerable danger. Dervish raids were expected in this
direction, and the authorities were evidently afraid of complications. A
solemn palaver forthwith took place, at which our three sheikhs showed
that they thought little of the supposed danger, and said that, though we
were nominally in Dervish country at the time, there was no armed force
near of sufficient strength to attack us. So we decided, and backed up
our decision with a promised bribe, to stay another night in Wadi Gabeit,
and to continue our course round Mount Erba, as we had originally
intended, and with us we kept the messenger of woe with his gun and spear
as an additional protection.



CHAPTER XXVIII

BEHIND THE JEBEL ERBA


We left Wadi Gabeit next morning, and on the following day another
messenger from Sawakin met us with a similar mandate; but as we were now
journeying in a presumably safe direction we annexed him too, and went on
our way rejoicing. Personally we felt that we knew the condition of the
country better than the authorities of Sawakin, who had never been there.
If our sheikhs had meant treachery they would long ago have put it into
practice; our two Kourbab sheikhs, whose property is in and around
Mohammed Gol, were ample guarantee for our safety; and, moreover, the
country was so absolutely destitute of everything that we gave the
Dervishes credit for better sense than to raid it.

Our first day's march was dreary in the extreme, over country covered
with dark shale, just like a colliery district without the smoke, and
with the faintest possible trace of vegetation here and there.

It was at this juncture that we lost our little dog, a pet that had
journeyed everywhere with us; when search failed we gave it up for lost,
and drew mournful pictures of the dear creature dying in agonies in the
desert, foodless and waterless. The clever animal nevertheless retraced
its steps, how we know not, to Mohammed Gol in five days, without food
and with very little water, over the desert paths we had come--a distance
of about 120 miles--and terrified the governor out of his wits, as he
naturally thought it was the sole survivor of our expedition. It made
its way straight to the jetty and swam to our dhow, the _Taisir_, and was
picked up by our Arab sailors more dead than alive. After resting and
feeding on the dhow for two days, the dog jumped overboard once more, and
went off by itself to the mountains for three days in search of us; when
this failed it returned again, and reached our dhow the night before we
did, and was ready to welcome us on our return with a wildly
demonstrative greeting. We eventually gave it to a sergeant at Sawakin,
and have reason to believe that it is at present taking part with its
regiment in the Soudan campaign.

That day, Sheikh Mohamed Ali Hamed, who was riding a loaded camel, came
to me so much disgusted with the smell of a box covered with black
American cloth, that he asked me if it were not made of pig-skin. The
people are so ignorant of what pig-skin looks like that they often handle
it without knowing, otherwise they would not touch it.

It was a distinct disappointment to us only to see the mountains of, and
not to be able to penetrate into, the Wadi Hayèt, owing to its occupation
by Dervish tribes. On excellent authority we heard that there were
numerous ruined cities there, especially at a spot called Oso; that it
was more fertile than the parts through which we had passed; that the
Mogarra mountains were higher than Erba; and that it was well watered.
Apparently this important Soudanese valley takes its rise in Bawati, to
the south of Erba, and, after making first a bold sweep right through the
heart of the Soudan, it reaches the sea to the north of Mount Elba, some
twenty miles north of Halaib. This wadi will form an interesting point
for exploration when the Soudan is once more settled, and if these
statements are correct it will be of considerable importance in the
future development of the country. As for the valleys near the coast,
unless they prove rich in minerals they can never be of much value to any
one. In Wadi Gabeit, the only industry now carried on by the very few
inhabitants, except the rearing of flocks, is the drying of senna, which
grows wild here in considerable quantities. They cut the branches and lay
them out to dry on levelled circles; these they take down to the coast
and export to Suez.

We were now sixty miles, as the crow flies, from the sea. We were
terribly afraid we should be made to go by a lower way between the
mountains and the sea, in which case our journey would not be of nearly
such great value in map-making, but at last my husband persuaded the
sheikhs, saying he would sign, with all the rest of us, a paper to
protect the heads of Sheikhs Ali Debalohp, Hassan Bafori, and Mohamed Ali
Hamed, which we did.

They said they did not themselves expect any danger. Had they done so
they would never have let our camp extend over so much ground, with no
concealment as regarded fires and shouting, nor would they have let their
camels wander so far afield.

The first place after Wadi Gabeit that we camped at was Hambulli, four
hours distant. The thermometer was down to 50° in the night.

There was another letter from the mamour and another from Sawakin and a
most tremendous lot of consultations, and at last my husband sent a
letter to the mamour: 'Your Excellency,--I have decided to go by Erba and
Sellala and hope to reach Mohammed Gol in a shorter time by that route.'

By this time we were in the Kourbab country, in that part under Sheikh
Hassan Bafori, who governs a branch of the tribe. We liked the mamour's
messenger, Sheikh Moussa Manahm, who came on with us, very much. Four
hours of very desert journeying was our portion the following day. We
were a good distance from water, but some was obtained by digging, thick
with sand and earth. We had thus far carried water from Wadi Gabeit. We
travelled six hours, wandering through desert valleys, in which
everything was dried up, with clumps of grass in it as black as if they
had been burnt, and as if they had not seen rain for years. All the
valleys to the west of Mount Erba seem to be arid except Gumateo or
Gumatyewa, a big valley which must have water near the surface, which
runs all along at the back of the range, with arid hills from 500 to
1,000 feet on either side of it. Vegetation is more abundant, and masses
of arack-trees (salvadora), supposed to be the mustard-tree of the Bible,
grow here, the wood of which is much esteemed for cleaning the teeth.
Wadi Gumateo seems to be a favourite nursery for camels. On our way we
passed many camel mothers with their infants, feeding on the arack and
other shrubs. At the upper end of this valley, where we encamped for a
night, Mount Erba, with its highest peak, Mount Nabidua, stands out in
bold and fantastic outline. It is a remarkable range as seen from this
spot, shutting off like a great wall the Soudan from the Red Sea
littoral.

It was a most beautiful place and there was plenty of wood, so we could
have fine fires at night and burn some charcoal for future use.

On February 18 we had a much more enjoyable day, for we were winding
about among the mountains. Twice we had to dismount to walk over passes.
One was exceedingly fine, with bold and stupendous cliffs.

There were several groups of huts in the Wadi Khur, which we next
reached.

There is much more vegetation here, many tamarisks and other shrubs
giving delightful shade. Wadi Khur is the nursery for young donkeys, many
of which, we were told, from time to time escape to the higher mountain,
and have established the race of wild asses to be found here. The valley
has a good many pastoral inhabitants, and in the side gorges are deep
pools of lovely water in natural reservoirs, in which we revelled after
our somewhat limited supply further inland. Up these gorges we found
bulbs, rushes, and water-plants. At our camp here our men busied
themselves in decorating their locks prior to reaching Sellala.
Mutton-fat is beaten in the hands till it becomes like lard, and this
material the hairdresser dabs at the curly wigs of his patients; those
whose curls become the whitest and stiffest deem themselves the finest.

As we were going through a very narrow gorge, where Wadi Khur has changed
into Khor (gorge) Khur, some stones were bowled down from above, without
hitting any part of our caravan. There was a great deal of shouting from
the principal sheikhs to the offenders, and they desired one of the
soldiers to fire off his gun, which he did. Sheikh Hassan did not half
like the laugh that rose against him when I said, 'Last time it was
Sheikh Ali Debalohp's men, and now it is yours.'

We encamped while still in the Khor Khur, but the sheikhs would not allow
the tents to be put near the rocks, fearing disaster, and in the morning
Sheikh Hassan was in a great hurry to be off, coming and shouting 'Al
khiem! Al khiem!' ('the tents!') to hasten us out of them and let them be
packed. We had had to carry water from the last place. It had been so
clear and clean when we had it in our own buckets. It had taken more than
four hours to fetch with camels, but what we carried on was put into
dirty skins, full of the mud of the place before, so it was horrible and
a great disappointment; we had to wait for more.

When we left this camp we were led to suppose we should reach Sellala,
said to be an oasis, in about two hours and a half; but it took us an
hour to get out of the Khor Khur, winding among high rocks with most
beautiful shapes and shadows, rounding Jebel Gidmahm, which was on our
left, and then we entered a very hideous wadi called Amadet. The floor of
it was very up and down, and high rocks and little hills stood about,
whereas the wadis are for the most part flat in the middle. But all round
this ugly wadi there were high and fantastic mountains, range behind
range.

After that there was a narrow khor called Rabrabda, and finally a great
sandy desert, where the hills were comparatively low, through which we
marched for several hours, always looking out for the oasis, where we
promised ourselves great enjoyment, intending to spend a few days in so
nice a place. When at last we reached Sellala, which Ali Hamid's son had
led us to believe was a perfect Paradise, instead we found a wretched
arid spot, with one deep and well-constructed well, probably of
considerable antiquity, surrounded by many mud drinking-troughs, around
which were collected a large number of camels.

All our promised verdure resolved itself into a few mimosa-trees and
desert plants, and we encamped in great discomfort in a raging sandstorm,
quite out of patience with our guide for his deceit. The wind was very
wild and cold. We did not enjoy Sellala at all. Our tent had to be tied
up in a tiny sandy cleft, and a huge boulder was under my bed. We had
only two winds to trouble us there, though, instead of all four, which
were raging outside. About 200 yards from the well was Ali Hamid's
village, a collection of some six or eight huts, in one of which dwells
old Ali Hamid himself, the aged sheikh of this powerful branch of the
Kourbab tribe; and the only evidence that we had of greater prosperity
was that the women here wear gold nose-rings and have long gold earrings
and more elaborate ornaments hanging from their plaited hair.

Ali Hamid looked very old and decrepit. He had a long hooked nose and
exceedingly unpleasant face, and when we saw him we quite believed him
to be, as they say, a hardened old slave-dealer. Perhaps the most
remarkable fact about him was that he had a mother living, a wizened old
crone who inhabited a tiny hut at Mohammed Gol, and reputed to be 135
years old by her friends, though I question if she was much over 90. Old
age is rare among these nomads, and hence they make the most of any
specimen they can produce.

We sat in the village for some time, and purchased various camel
ornaments--tassels which they hang from their necks, and curious
adornments decorated with cowries, which they place before the covered
awning beneath which great ladies conceal themselves when on a camel
journey.

Ali Hamid's son took us the next day on fast-trotting camels to visit
some graffiti on basaltic rocks about eight miles distant. Here we found
representations of animals chiselled on the hard rocks, similar to those
we saw in Wadi Gabeit; we could recognise gazelles, camels, and
elephants, and we thought the artist also had intended to depict
giraffes, mongooses, and other strange beasts. Scattered amongst these
animals are several Sabæan letters, the two [Symbol: script] (_ya_) and
[Symbol: script] (_wa_) being very conspicuous. These scribblings were
evidently done by the miners who were on their way from the coast to Wadi
Gabeit, having landed at a convenient little harbour close by called
Salaka. There is also one of the ruined towers not far from this spot,
and the letters point to the fact that some of the miners here engaged
must have been of Sabæan or Southern Arabian origin.

Sheikh Ali Hamid came often to see us, with many other sons, besides
Mohamed, who had travelled with us, and a few of the latter's children,
clothed and naked. They used to sit in a semicircle round the door of our
tent.

Of course an exchange of gifts took place, and we were sent a sheep and a
huge basketful of milk. The basket was shaped like a vase, a foot in
diameter. A very nice inhabitant of the forbidden Wadi Hayet came to see
us, Sheikh Seyyid Ta'ah. He gave us useful information as to the
geography of his neighbourhood and the course of the valley.

Captain Smyth went off from Sellala with Sheikh Mohamed to take a peep
into Wadi Hayèt, and on February 22 we left the place without any regret
and turned northward. There are five Sellalas, and one is really an
oasis. The splendid mountains of Erba had been quite obscured by the
sand, though there had been a magnificent view of them when we arrived.

On the way we passed three more of the tall towers similar to those we
had previously seen, and felt still more convinced that they were
connected with the gold industry in the inland valley, and had been built
to mark the roads conducting in that direction.

We tried to find a sheltered nook to encamp in when we reached the
mountains, but in vain. We stayed at Harboub, and were nearly stifled by
the dirty dust that blew into the tents. The water was very clear and
soft.

We continued northward for two hours and a half, and then turned westward
up the steep Wadi Ambaya.

Wadi Ambaya is the chief valley of Mount Erba, and it runs right into the
heart of the mountain. Up this we were conducted by Sheikh Hassan, in
whose territory we now found ourselves. This valley is fairly well
inhabited by pastoral people; they live in huts dotted about here and
there, which are difficult to recognise from their likeness in colour to
the rocks surrounding them, which they would almost seem to have been
made to mimic. The slopes of Erba provide pasturage for a large number of
flocks at all seasons of the year. Nabidua, the highest peak of the
range, reaches an elevation of 7,800 feet; Sherbuk and Emeri are not
much lower, and the outline of the rugged peaks is exceedingly fine. Up
in the higher parts of this range there are a great number of ibex,
several of which fell to Captain Smyth's rifle, but we did not care much
for the flesh. The natives hunt them with dogs of a breed said to be
peculiar to these parts.

Our camp in Wadi Ambaya was a delicious spot, amid fantastic boulders and
rich vegetation. On climbing up the gorge beyond us we came across a
stream with running water, forming deep green pools among the rocks, and
to us, after the arid deserts we had passed through, this spot was
perfectly ideal; and the people, too, who dwell up in the higher ground,
look infinitely healthier--lithe, active men, who leap like goats from
rock to rock, each with a sword and shield. There are several valleys in
Erba penetrating into the heart of the mountains, but Ambaya is the
principal one.

In the outer part of the valley, which is rather open, is a way into the
Wadi Addatterèh, where we had already been. It was a tremendous scramble
to get up the gorge, and our tents were perched on rocks, and Matthaios
was delighted with his nice clean kitchen in the middle of the gorge. He
rigged up some sticks to hang a cloak up as a shade. The servants had
plenty to do preserving antelopes and ibex heads, and burning charcoal
and washing.

We were here made glad by Captain Smyth's safe return, and after staying
three days we returned to the mouth of our wadi, and then went on toward
the north, and after five hours camped under some large trees near a well
of very good water, called Tokwar.

We finished our journey into the Wadi Koukout at 8 o'clock next morning,
having to leave the camels and squeeze on on foot. It is a veritable
frying-pan. We had hardly room to pitch our tents, or to get into them
when pitched, by reason of the big boulders and steep hollows where
water swirled about. There was good water quite close.

We had another messenger from Sawakin, Hassan Gabrin, to guide us by
land, or, if we went by sea, to say we should go quickly.

The morning after our arrival we started very early to visit Koukout, a
mountain really separate from Erba, but looking like a spur of it, the
highest peak of which is only 4,000 feet above the sea. Here again one
penetrates into the mountain by a curious gorge, with deep pools of
water, the rocks about which are, if possible, more fantastic than those
of Erba. One comes to chasms, over which the water flows, which look like
the end of all things; but by climbing up the side of these one finds the
gorge continuing until the very heart of the mountain is reached, where
is a little open ground well stocked with water and green. High up here
we spent a few hours at a pastoral village, where we found the women
busily engaged in making butter in skins tied to a tree; these they shake
until butter is produced. They store it in jars, and take it to Mohammed
Gol to exchange for grain, but they eat very little except the products
of their flocks, and, like the Abyssinians, they do not mind eating meat
raw.

We saw some interesting domestic features in this mountain village. The
children are given toy shields and spears, with which to practise in
early life; and we found here several long flutes with four notes each,
the music of which is weird and not unlike that of the bagpipes, and well
suited to the wild surroundings.

Here, too, they play the ubiquitous African game, munkala or tarsla. Two
rows of six holes are dug in the ground, and in these they play with
counters of camel-dung a mysterious game which I never can learn. Here
they call it _mangola_, and it is played all down the East Coast, from
Mashonaland to Egypt, and also, I hear, on the West Coast; it seems a
general form of recreation throughout the Dark Continent, and has been
carried by Africans to all parts of the world to which they have
wandered. Here they were playing with holes in the sand, but one often
sees them dug in marble blocks, or on rocks, or in pavements.

There are two games--the game of the wise and that of the foolish; the
former, like chess, requires a good deal of thought.

[Illustration: FLUTE-PLAYERS IN THE WADI KOUKOUT, SOUDAN]

Sheikh Hassan Bafori's mother resided in this village, so old that she
looked like the last stage of 'She,' but no one said she was as old as
old Ali Hamid's mother.

I think the weaving arrangements were quite the most rude I have ever
seen.

The yarn had been wound over two sticks about 20 feet apart, and that
stick near which the weaving was begun was tied by two ropes, each a foot
long, to pegs in the ground. The other was simply strained against two
pegs. At this end a couple of threads had been run to keep the warp in
place. There was no attempt to separate the alternate threads so as to
raise each in turn. There was a stick raised 4 or 5 inches on two forked
sticks to separate the upper and under parts of this endless web of 40
feet. The weaver sat on her goat's-hair web, and never could get the
shuttle across all the way. It consisted of a thin uneven stick, over a
foot long. She had to separate twelve to fifteen threads with her hand,
and stick in a pointed peg about 10 inches long, while she put the
shuttle through that far; then she beat it firm with this instrument and
went on as before, patiently.

The shepherd boys looked very graceful, playing on the long flutes with
four notes. One of these flutes belongs to each hut. We were interested,
too, in seeing men making sticks out of ibex horns. They cover the horn
with grease, and put it in hot water or over the fire to melt and soften
it, and then scrape and scrape till it is thin enough and able to be
straightened. The ibex-horn hairpins are made with six or seven bands of
filigree round them. The women's camel-saddles have great frameworks of
bent sticks, nearly as large as some of the huts, to give shelter, and
are very smart indeed on a journey.

On leaving Koukout, Sheikh Hassan took us to his well at Tokwar again, a
deep and presumably ancient well, near which he has his huts; and from
there to a spot called Akelabillèh, about four miles from Tokwar, and not
far from our original starting-point of Hadi. Here we found slight traces
of gold-working. About half a dozen crushing-stones lay around, and a
good deal of quartz refuse. Probably this was a small offshoot of the
more extensive mines in the interior which had not repaid continued
working.

A rapid ride of three hours from Akelabillèh brought us back again to
Mohammed Gol and the close of our expedition, for already the first
murmurs of disturbances with the Dervishes were in the air, and the
mamour of Mohammed Gol and the officers at Sawakin affected to have been
very anxious for our safety. We, however, being on the spot, had been in
blissful ignorance of any danger, and further considered that the country
we had traversed was not the least likely to be raided by any sensible
people, desert and waterless as it was for the most part, and would offer
no attractions in the shape of booty, except in the fastnesses of Mount
Erba itself. Not one inch of the ground was under cultivation, and the
few inhabitants were the poorest of the poor, and I think this is the
only expedition we have ever made in which we never once saw such a thing
as a hen or an egg.

By the by, at the huts near Tokwar we rejoined Sheikh Ali Debalohp, who
had been invited by Sheikh Hassan to stay a night, and with due
permission from my husband he was able to do so. We saw the sleeping
arrangements. On the ground was a piece of matting large enough for both
to sleep on, and another bit a yard high, supported by sticks, round the
three windiest sides.

They were busy playing with a large lizard, of which they seemed to be
afraid, and which had a forked tongue and very long teeth. It had a
string round its neck, and was kept at bay with a sword.

We reached Mohammed Gol the quicker that we had no foot passengers. All
had scrambled on to the camels, and so we were by twos and threes on our
animals.

The little mamour Mohammed Effendi was delighted to see us, and we were
soon drinking tea in his public arbour, surrounded by a crowd of now
smiling faces--the very same faces which had scowled upon us so
dreadfully when we first landed. We and our little dog Draka were equally
delighted at once more meeting.

We found the south wind blowing, if it can be said to do so in a dead
calm--prevailing would perhaps be a better word. The madrepore pier had
been nearly swept away, and the houses near the water were flooded.

We settled into our ship again that evening.

Next day was pay-day, and my husband and Matthaios went ashore with more
than 40_l_. to distribute. The three big sheikhs, by the advice of the
mamour, were given 2_l_. apiece; the soldiers got ten shillings each--far
too much, he said; Mohammed Ismail, Sheikh Hassan Gabrin, Sheikh Moussa
Manahm, Mohammed Erkab, and one Akhmet, a great dandy, had five shillings
each.

Besides this, other presents were given. Sheikh Ali Debalohp had a
quilted cotton coverlet, and Mohammed Ali Hamid the same and a
cartridge-belt; Sheikh Hassan Bafori a blanket, a smart silk keffieh and
a sword-belt; and the mamour an opera-glass and a silk blanket, besides
minor things; all seemed very well satisfied. They certainly were all
very nice to us.

The secretary gave me a tremendously heavy curved camel-stick of ebony,
and the mamour besides a head-scratcher, which he had made me himself
from an ibex horn, a stick of ibex horn, and seven and a half pairs of
horns.

We were weatherbound yet another day, everything damp and sticky. The
south wind seems to me to have a very mysterious scooping and lifting
power; no other wind lifts sand and water along as this one does. The
wind began to freshen up towards night and got as far as the east, and by
morning was blowing strong north by east.

My husband had, as usual, to go out and stir up Reis Hamaya and tell him
we must be off. He seemed as much surprised as he always was. We had a
farewell visit from the little mamour, and off we set for a very rolly
voyage. The whole day we rolled with the smallest sail, everything
banging, beds jostling, but we were glad no longer to feel wet and sticky
as regards our clothes, bedding, and the whole ship. Our last night on
board was not the least exciting.

We had stopped near Darour amongst reefs of coral.

Every night when we cast anchor the ship used to turn round so that the
north wind blew full on us and our cabins, but this night it whizzed
round so violently as to drag the anchors, and we went back on to a
reef--only a little, though, but enough to alarm all on board. The
anchors had to be got up and taken by boat to fix into another reef. It
was necessary for all the gentlemen and servants to assist the sailors in
hauling us off the reef. It was very hard on the sailors, for their
supper was smoking hot, ready for them after their day's fast, and the
poor fellows had to work till 9 o'clock, doing the best they could for
the safety of the ship.

We went to bed, however, with the unpleasant knowledge that we were not
very tightly fastened up, and the uneasy feeling that we might drag in
the night, and not without making some little preparation in case of a
swim.

We were all safe in the morning, but almost the first thing we did, as we
sat at breakfast, was to grind over a reef, more than the length of the
keel.

We duly reached Sawakin in the afternoon of March 4, where Hackett Pain
Bey, who was acting-governor, kindly lent us two accommodation in the
Government House, and we said farewell to the _Taisir_, its cockroaches,
its mosquitoes, and its mouse; and the ship had immediately to be turned
over on her side for repairs--needed, as the coral reefs had done a good
deal of damage. Reis Hamaya was enchanted with a gift of the cabins with
their padlocks, and I am sure they soon became very dirty holes.

Though we were scolded for our pains, our approving consciences told us
how pleasing to the British Government those pains had been, and how glad
it was of some map beyond the Admiralty chart. Eight days after our
arrival the news of the declaration of war came to Sawakin.

We were offered a passage to Suez in the _Behera_ (which means delta),
but as an ordinary steamer came in, and we did not know how long the
_Behera_ might be waiting for troops, we thought it better to make our
way northward at once. We reached Cairo just in time for Captain Smyth to
be rewarded for his hard work, while with our expedition, by being
ordered off to the war by Sir F. Wingate, who, with the Sirdar, was
starting that night; Captain Smyth was to follow in two days.

We felt very proud, and now he has the Victoria Cross, because 'At the
battle of Khartoum Captain Smyth galloped forward and attacked an Arab
who had run amok among the camp-followers. Captain Smyth received the
Arab's charge and killed him, being wounded by a spear in the arm in so
doing. He thus saved the life of one, at least, of the camp-followers.'

[Illustration: MAP OF

SOKOTRA

to illustrate the travels of

MR. J. THEODORE BENT.

_Stanford's Geog.^l Estab.^t, London_

London: Smith, Elder & Co.]



THE MAHRI ISLAND OF SOKOTRA



CHAPTER XXIX

KALENZIA


As we had been unable to penetrate into the Mahri country, though we had
attempted it from three sides, we determined to visit the offshoot of the
Mahri who dwell on the island of Sokotra.

Cast away in the Indian Ocean, like a fragment rejected in the
construction of Africa, very mountainous and fertile, yet practically
harbourless, the island of Sokotra is, perhaps, as little known as any
inhabited island on the globe.

Most people have a glimpse of it on their way to India and Australia, but
this glimpse has apparently aroused the desire of very few to visit it,
for the Europeans who have penetrated into it could be almost counted on
the fingers of one hand. During recent years two botanical expeditions
have visited it, one under Professor Balfour, and one under Dr.
Schweinfurth, and the results added marvellously to the knowledge of
quaint and hitherto unknown plants.

We passed two months traversing it from end to end, with the object of
trying to unravel some of its ancient history so shrouded in mystery, and
learn something about its present inhabitants.

Mariette Bey, the eminent Egyptologist, identifies Sokotra with To Nuter,
a place to be bracketed with the land of Punt in the pictorial
decorations of the temple of Deir el Bahri, as resorted to by the
ancients for spices, frankincense, and myrrh; and he is probably correct,
for it is pretty certain that no one given spot in reach of the ancients
could produce at one and the same time so many of the coveted products of
that day--the ruby-coloured dragon's blood (_Draco Kinnabari_ of Pliny),
three distinct species of frankincense, several kinds of myrrh, besides
many other valuable gum-producing trees, and aloes of super-excellent
quality.

It is referred to by the author of the 'Periplus' as containing a very
mixed and Greek-speaking population drawn together for trading purposes,
trafficking with Arabia and India. Abu'lfida, Africanus, and other
writers, Arabic and otherwise, mention Christianity as prevailing here,
and Theodoret, writing in the beginning of the fifth century, speaks of
the great missionary Theophilus as coming from the island of Diu to teach
Christianity in India.

Cosmas Indicopleustes calls the island Dioscorides. He visited it in the
sixth century, and accounted for the Greek-speaking population he met
with by saying that they had been placed there by the Ptolemies. El
Masoudi considered the Greek a purer race in Sokotra than elsewhere.

As far back as the tenth century Sokotra was a noted haunt of pirates
from Katch and Gujerat Bawarij, from a kind of ship called _barja_.[13]

Traders came from Muza Lemyrica (Canara) and Barggaza (Gujerat).

Ibn Batuta gives an account of a certain Sheikh Said of Maskat being
seized by Sokotran pirates, who sent him off empty-handed to Aden.

Marco Polo describes the catching of whales for ambergris. El Masoudi[14]
says the best ambergris comes from the sea of Zinj in East Africa: 'The
men of Zinj come in canoes and fall upon the creature with harpoons and
cables, and draw it ashore and extract the ambergris.'

In the inscription of the Nakhtshe Rustam, near Persepolis, which we saw
when in Persia in 1889, thirty countries are named which were conquered
by Darius, the Akhemenid, amongst them Iskuduru, _i.e._ Sokotra.

Though it is Arabian politically, Sokotra geographically is African. This
is the last and largest of a series of islands and islets stretching out
into the Indian ocean, including the little group of Abdul Kerim. Some of
these are white with guano.

Darzi, Kal Farun, Sambeh, and Samboyia are the names of some of the
smaller ones. Sokotra itself is situated about 240 miles from Cape
Guardafui, and is about 500 miles from Aden.

The latitude of the island is between 12° 19' and 12° 42', and the
longitude between 53° 20' and 54° 30'. It is 72 miles long from east to
west, and 22 miles wide from north to south. There is a coral reef nearly
all the way from Africa to beyond Ras Momi.

According to the Admiralty charts the water between the islands and the
mainland is 500 fathoms deep, but among the islands nowhere is it deeper
than 200 fathoms.

It is an island that seems to be very much in the way as far as
navigation is concerned, and many shipwrecks have been occasioned by its
being confused with the mainland, one being taken for the other. The
wreck of the _Aden_, and the great loss of life resulting from it, which
took place so soon after we were there, is still fresh in our memories.

Our party consisted of Mr. Bennett, who was new to Eastern life, our old
Greek servant, Matthaios, and two young Somali, Mahmoud and Hashi. They
could talk a little English, but generally talked Arabic to us and
Matthaios. We were told before starting that Mahri, or Mehri, was the
language most in use, and we nearly committed the serious error of
taking a Mahri man from Arabia, who could also speak Arabic, as an
interpreter, but fortunately we did not do so, as he would have been
quite useless, unless he could also have talked Sokoteriote.

We found it no easy matter to get there. First we were told we should, if
we attempted to go by sailing-boat, have to coast to Ras Fartak, on the
Arabian coast, and let the monsoon blow us to Sokotra, and this seemed
impracticable. Finally we arranged with a British India steamer, the
_Canara_, that it should 'deviate' and deposit us there for a
consideration.

The ss. _Canara_ promised to await the arrival of the P. and O. steamer
before leaving Aden, and would, for one thousand rupees (62_l._), take us
to Sokotra and remain four hours. After that we were to pay thirty rupees
an hour, and in no case would she tarry more than twenty-four hours. If
landing were impossible, we were to be carried to Bombay.

We were landed in a lifeboat, through the surf at the town of Kalenzia,
which lies at the western end of the island. It is a wretched spot, a
jumble of the scum of the East; Arab traders, a Banyan or two, a
considerable Negroid population in the shape of soldiers and slaves, and
Bedouin from the mountains, who come down with their skins and jars of
clarified butter, to despatch in dhows to Zanzibar, Maskat, and other
butterless places.

Butter is now the chief product and almost the sole export of the island,
and Sokotra butter has quite a reputation in the markets along the shores
of Arabia and Africa. The sultan keeps a special dhow for the trade, and
the Bedouin's life is given up to the production of butter. Nowhere, I
think, have I seen so many flocks and herds in so limited a space as
here.

Kalenzia (the place has been spelt in so many ways that we took the
liberty of spelling it phonetically as we heard it pronounced) has an
apology for a port, or roadstead, facing the African coast, which is the
most sheltered during the prevalence of the north-east monsoon. Separated
from the shore by a bar of shingle is a lagoon, fed by the waters coming
down from the encircling mountains, which reach an altitude of 1,500 or
2,000 feet. The lagoon is very prettily embowered with palms and
mangroves, and the waters are covered with wild duck, but it is a wonder
that all the inhabitants do not die of fever, for the water is very
fetid-looking and they drink from nothing else. I believe this is the
water which is supplied to ships. The shore is rendered pestiferous by
rotting seaweed, and the bodies of sharks, with back fin cut out and tail
cut off, which are exposed to dry on the beach. We preferred the brackish
water from a well hard by our camp until we discovered a nice stream
under the slopes of the mountains, about three miles away, to which we
sent skins to be filled. This stream is under the northern slope of the
Kalenzia range, and near it are the ruins of an ancient town, and as the
water trickles on towards the lagoon it fertilises the country
exceedingly, and its banks are rich in palms and other trees. The
abandoned site of this old town is infinitely preferable to the modern
one, and much healthier.

We were received in a most friendly way by the inhabitants, and hoped
that, as we were English and the island was to some extent under British
protection, we should be able to proceed inland at once. Our nationality,
however, made not the slightest difference to them, and we were told we
must encamp while our letters were taken to the sultan, who lives beyond
Tamarida, and await his permission to proceed farther. The eight days we
had to remain here were the most tedious of those we spent on the island.

One of our amusements was to watch boat-building accomplished by tying a
bundle of bamboos together at each end and pushing them out into shape
with wooden stretchers.

They have enormous lobster-pots, 6 feet to 8 feet in diameter, made of
matting woven with split bamboo, in patterns something like the seats of
our chairs. The men often wear their tooth-brushes tied to their turbans;
a sprig of arrack serves the purpose.

Whilst at Kalenzia we must have had nearly all the inhabitants of the
place at our tent asking for a remedy for one disease or another; they
seemed to be mostly gastric troubles, which they would describe as pains
revolving in their insides like a wheel, and wounds. The Sokotra medical
lore is exceedingly crude. One old man we found by the shore having the
bowels of a crab put on a very sore finger by way of ointment. A baby of
very tender age (eleven months) had had its back so seared by a red-hot
iron that it could get no rest, and cried most piteously.

The poor little thing was wrapped in a very coarse and prickly goat-hair
cloth, and its mother was patting its back to stop its cries, quite
ineffectually, as you may well imagine. I spread some vaseline on a large
sheet of grease-proof paraffin paper and applied it most gently. Its
whole family then wrapped it up in the goat-hair cloth in such a way as
to crush and put aside the dressing, and the mother laid it on its back,
though I had warned her not to do it, on her knees, and jumped it up and
down. The baby was none the better, but all around seemed pleased, and I
could only sadly think that I had done my best. I find the grease-proof
paper most valuable to spread ointment for man and beast where rags are
scarce.

One old lady, with an affection of the skin, would only have the 'bibi'
as her doctor, so she came to me with a good many men to show her off,
but would have nothing to do with my husband. I said the first treatment
must consist in a thorough washing all over with warm water and soap:
but behold! I heard there was no soap in the island, so halves and
quarters of cakes of Pears' soap as well as whole ones, were distributed
as a precious ointment.

They have no soap, no oil, no idea of washing or cleansing a wound, and
cauterisation with a hot iron appears to be their panacea for every
ailment.

A favourite remedy with them here, as in Arabia, is to stop up the
nostrils with plugs fastened to a string round the neck to prevent
certain noxious scents penetrating into it; but, as far as we could see,
they make no use whatsoever of the many medicinal herbs which grow so
abundantly on the island.

The women of Kalenzia use turmeric largely for dyeing their faces and
their bodies yellow, a custom very prevalent on the south coast of
Arabia; they wear long robes, sometimes dyed with indigo, sometimes of a
bright scarlet hue. The pattern of their dress is the same as that worn
in the Hadhramout, _i.e._ composed of two pieces of cotton cloth wide
enough to reach the finger-tips and with a seam down each side. The front
piece is longer than in the Hadhramout, coming down to within a foot of
the ground, but the train is also very much longer, and must lie more
than a yard and a half on the ground. These ladies get good neither from
the length nor the breadth of their dresses, for as the train evidently
incommodes them, they twist the dress so tightly round their bodies that
the left side seam comes straight or rather lop-sidedly behind and one
corner of the train is thrown over the left shoulder all in a wisp. There
is nothing to keep it up, so down it comes continually, and is always
being caught up again. I never saw a train down, except once for my
edification.

Their hair is cut in a straight fringe across the forehead and is in
little plaits hanging behind. They wear a loose veil of a gauzy nature,
with which they conceal half their faces at times. Silver rings and
bracelets of a very poor character, and glass bangles, complete their
toilet, and the commoner class and Bedou women weave a strong cloth in
narrow strips of goat-hair, which they wrap in an inelegant fashion round
their hips to keep them warm, sometimes as their only garment. They do
not cover their faces. From one end of Sokotra to the other we never
found anything the least characteristic or attractive amongst the
possessions of the islanders, nothing but poor examples of what one finds
everywhere on the south coast of Arabia and east of Africa.

Many weddings were going on during our residence at Kalenzia, and at them
we witnessed a ceremony which we had not seen before. On the morning of
the festive day the Sokotrans, negro slaves being apparently excluded,
assembled in a room and seated themselves round it. Three men played
tambourines or tom-toms of skin called _teheranes_, and to this music
they chanted passages out of the Koran, led by the 'mollah'; this formed
a sort of religious preliminary to a marriage festival; and in the
evening, of course, the dancing and singing took place to the dismal tune
of the same tom-toms, detrimental, very, to our earlier slumbers. The
_teherane_ would seem to be the favourite and only Sokotran instrument of
music--if we except flutes made of the leg-bones of birds common on the
opposite coast, and probably introduced thence--and finds favour alike
with Arab, Bedou, and Negro.

The people here did not torment us by staring at and crowding round us.
They came only on business, to be doctored, to sell something, or to
bring milk wherewith to purchase from us lumps of sugar.

The houses are pleasantly shaded amongst the palm groves, and have nice
little gardens attached to them in which gourds, melons, and tobacco
grow; and in the middle of the paths between them one is liable to
stumble over turtlebacks, used as hencoops for some wretched specimens of
the domestic fowl which exist here, and which lay eggs about the size of
a plover's.

Though a poor-looking place it looks neat with its little sand-strewn
streets.

It contains a single wretched little mosque, in character like those
found in third-rate villages in Arabia; Kadhoup or Kadhohp possesses
another, and Tamarida no less than two; and these represent the sum total
of the present religious edifices in Sokotra, for the Bedouin in their
mountain villages do not care for religious observances and own no
mosques.

Owing to the scarcity of water in the south-western corner of the island
we were advised not to visit it; the wells were represented to us as dry,
and the sheep as dying, though the goats still managed to keep plump and
well-looking. Perhaps the drought which had lately visited India may have
affected Sokotra too; and we were told before going there that a copious
rainfall might be expected during December and January, for Sokotra gets
rain during both monsoons; but during our stay on the island we had
little rain, except when up on the heights of Mount Haghiers.

One day we two went some distance in the direction of the mountains, and
came on a large upright rock with an inscription upon it, evidently late
Himyaritic or Ethiopic, and copied as much of it as was distinguishable.
Not far off was the tidy little hamlet of Haida. The walls of the yards
there are circular.

Farther on, behind the village of Kissoh, are the ruins of an ancient
village with a long, well-built, oblong structure in the middle, possibly
a tomb; and it was behind this again that we found the good water that we
drank afterwards.

There must once have been a large population, to judge by the way the
hills are terraced up by walls, and the many barren, neglected palm-trees
about among the old fields.

The Kalenzia range of mountains is quite distinct from Haghier, and is
about 1,500 or 2,000 feet high. We could find no special name for it.
They call it Fedahan, but that is the generic Sokoteriote word for
mountain.

The highest peak is called Màtala.

We were very glad when a venerable old sheikh named Ali arrived bringing
us a civil letter from the sultan and saying he had been sent to escort
us to Tamarida.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 13: Elliot, i. 65.]

[Footnote 14: i. 136.]



CHAPTER XXX

ERIOSH AND KADHOUP


After four days waiting for camels, and the usual wrangling over the
price and casting lots for us, which here they do with stones instead of
wood as in Arabia, we started late on Christmas Day, going of course only
a short way. As all were mounted on the baggage we could trot all the
way; the camels were not tied in strings. The first night we stopped at
Isèleh, an interesting place at the entrance of Wadi Gàhai below Mount
Lèhe Diftom, about two hours from Kalenzia, whence at night we could see
the numerous fires of troglodytes high up on the sides of the mountains;
and were able next day to ride nearly all the way, except over a pass to
Lim Ditarr, a depression in the hills sometimes filled with water, though
there was none for us. A little was fetched, but we had to keep the water
from our evening wash to serve next morning. This depression had in
former times been used as a reservoir, for we could detect the remains of
a stone embankment, a good deal despoiled for Moslem tombs.

Our onward journey took us past a lovely creek, called Khor Haghia,
running two miles inland, with silted mouth and overhanging yellow and
white rocks. The bright blue water and green mangroves made a brilliant
picture.

About a quarter of a mile inland there is a deep pot of salt water,
evidently left behind by the ocean when it receded from the shores of
Sokotra; it is about 200 feet across, and has its little beach and
seaweeds all complete, with its trees and bushes in its cliffs.

We lunched at the brackish well of Dia, and at sunset reached the hideous
plain of Eriosh, or Eriush, which has a flat surface of rock, about a
quarter of a mile in extent and partly covered with dried mud, and of
such soft stone that we could easily cut into it with pebbles. It is
covered with purely Ethiopic graffiti, almost exactly similar to those we
saw on the steps of the church and on the hillsides around Aksum in
Abyssinia--long serpent-like trails of Ethiopic words, with rude drawings
interspersed of camels, snakes, and so forth. Riebeck, who went inland
from Itur, says these are Greek. Conspicuous amongst them are the
numerous representations of two feet side by side, frequently with a
cross inserted in one of them; there are many separate crosses, too, on
this flat surface--crosses in circles, exactly like what one gets on
Ethiopic coins. We met with another inscribed stone to the east of the
island, bearing similar lettering.

Hard by this flat, inscribed surface are many tombs of an ancient date.
These tombs, which are found dotted over the island, bear a remarkable
resemblance to the tombs of the Bedja race, once dwelling on the shores
of the Red Sea to the north of Sawakin, and subject to the Ethiopian
emperor; they consist of enormous blocks of unhewn stone, inserted in the
ground to encircle and cover the tombs, and this forms another link
connecting the remains on the island with Abyssinia.

[Illustration: THE PLAIN OF ERIOSH, SOKOTRA.]

When the Abyssinian Christian monarchs conquered Arabia in the early
centuries of our era, and Christianised a large portion of that country,
they probably did the same by Sokotra, and, inasmuch as this island was
far removed from any political centre, Christianity probably existed here
to a much later period than it did in Arabia. Marco Polo touched here,
and alludes to the Christians of the island.

In speaking of two isles near Greater India, inhabited respectively by
men and women, he adds: 'They are Christians, and have their bishop,
subject to the Bishop of Socotora. Socotora hath an archbishop not
subject to the Pope, but to one Zatuli, who resides at Baldach, who
chooseth him.'

F. Xavier said among other things 'that each village had a priest called
_kashi_. No man could read. The _kashis_ repeated prayers in a forgotten
tongue, frequently scattering incense. A word like Alleluia often
occurred. For bells they used wooden rattles. They assembled in their
churches four times a day, and held St. Thomas in great veneration. The
_kashis_ married, but were very abstemious. They had two Lents, and
fasted from meat, milk, and fish.'

When Padre Vincenzo the Carmelite visited the island in the seventeenth
century he found the last traces of Christianity. 'The people still
retained a perfect jumble of rites and ceremonies, sacrificing to the
moon, circumcising, and abominating wine and pork. They had churches
called _moquame_, dark and dirty, and they daily anointed with butter an
altar. They had a cross, which they carried in procession, and a candle.
They assembled three times a day and three times a night; the priests
were called _odambo_. Each family had a cave where they deposited their
dead. If rain failed they selected a victim by lot and prayed round him
to the moon, and if this failed they cut off his hands. All the women
were called Maria.' Of this there is now no trace. Both Sacraments had
died out.

This debased form of Christianity existed as late as the seventeenth
century. The island was one of the places visited by Sir Thomas Roe in
1615.

It is needless to say that all ostensible traces of our cult have long
ago been obliterated, and the only Sokoteri religious term which differs
in any way from the usual Mohammedan nomenclature is the name for the
Devil; but we found, as I have already said, the carved crosses on the
flat surface at Eriosh, and we found a rock at the top of a hill to the
east of the island which had been covered with rude representations of
the Ethiopic cross. Scattered all over the island are deserted ruined
villages, differing but little from those of to-day, except that the
inhabitants call them all Frankish work, and admit that once Franks dwelt
in them of the cursed sect of the Nazarenes. We felt little hesitation in
saying that a branch of the Abyssinian Church once existed in Sokotra,
and that its destruction is of comparatively recent date.

If we consider that the ordinary village churches in Abyssinia are of the
flimsiest character--a thatched roof resting on a low round wall--we can
easily understand how the churches of Sokotra have disappeared. In most
of these ruined villages round enclosures are to be found, some with
apsidal constructions, which are very probably all that is left of the
churches.

Near Ras Momi, to the east of the island, we discovered a curious form of
ancient sepulture. Caves in the limestone rocks have been filled with
human bones from which the flesh had previously decayed. These caves were
then walled up and left as charnel-houses, after the fashion still
observed in the Eastern Christian Church. Amongst the bones we found
carved wooden objects which looked as if they had originally served as
crosses to mark the tombs, in which the corpses had been permitted to
decay prior to their removal to the charnel-house, or koimêthêria, as the
modern Greeks call them.

We stayed two days at Eriosh to study the _graffiti_ and tombs.

Water had to be fetched from Diahàmm, which we afterwards passed. It was
brackish. I have heard _riho_ said for water, but _diho_ was mostly used,
and certainly the names of many water-places began with Di. I remember my
husband answering the question where we should camp by calling out in
Arabic 'Near the water.' This was echoed in Sokoteri, '_Lal diho_.'

We took five days in getting from Kalenzia to Tamarida, and found the
water question on this route rather a serious one until we reached Mori
and Kadhoup, where the streams from the high mountains began. Mori is a
charming little spot by the sea, with a fine stream and a lagoon, and
palms and bright yellow houses as a foreground to the dark-blue
mountains.

Kadhoup is another fishing village built by the edge of the sea, with a
marshy waste of sand separating it from the hills; it possesses a
considerable number of surf-boats and canoes, and catamarans, on which
the fishermen ply their trade. Just outside the town women were busy
baking large pots for the export of butter, placing large fires around
them for this purpose. The Sokotrans are very crude in their ceramic
productions, and seem to have not the faintest inclination to decorate
their jars in any way. There were quantities of flamingoes on the beach.

We encamped at the foot of the hills, with a watery and sandy waste
between us and the village.

There are the foundations of some curious unfinished houses near Kadhoup,
also assigned to the Portuguese; but there appears to me to be no reason
whatsoever for ascribing these miserable remains to the builders of the
fine forts at Maskat, the founders of Ormuz and Goa, and the lords of the
East up to the seventeenth century.

The mountains here jut right out into the sea, forming a bold and rugged
coast line, and the path which connects the two places is as fine a one
to look upon as I have ever seen.

We had read a very awe-inspiring account of this path by Lieutenant
Wellsted, and so were quite disposed to believe all our camel-drivers
told us of the awful dangers to be encountered. They had formed a plan
whereby their Kadhoup friends might come in for some of our rupees. We
were not only to pay for camels, but also for a boat. Some, at least, of
the camels were sure, they said, to fall into the sea from the cliffs,
and our possessions, if not our lives themselves, might be lost. They
said that we ought to send our baggage by boat, even if we risked the
mountain path ourselves.

We assured them that we had landed in Sokotra (which they pronounce
Sakoutra) to see the island, and not to circumnavigate it. Others could
pass, so we could.

Their last hope was in my hoped-for faintheartedness. They watched till I
was alone in the tent, and, having recounted all the perils over again,
said:

'Let the men go over the mountain, but you, O Bibi! will go in a boat,
safely. You cannot climb, you cannot ride the camel, no one can hold you;
the path is too narrow, and you will be afraid.'

That being no good, old Sheikh Ali came. He was anxious, poor old man, to
be spared the exertion, and eventually rode all the way, except when
there was no room. He said I should go in a boat with him; he would take
care of me and give me musk (which he called misk) when we reached
Hadibo. He often promised misk, but I never got any; and here I may
remark that I have frequently heard Maskàt pronounced Mìskit in Arabia
amongst the Bedouin of the East.

We really did feel very adventurous indeed when we started. I rode my
camel a quarter of a mile to the foot of the ascent. No one else thought
it worth while to mount, but I was comfortably carried over a muddy
creek.

The Kadhoupers did get some rupees, for we were attended by twelve men
carrying bamboo poles 10 or 12 feet long.

It really was a stiff climb, but we had a good deal of shade, and when we
reached our highest point there was a pretty flat bit with scattered
trees and grass, about half a mile, I think. The twelve men had to carry
the baggage slung on the poles for a quarter of a mile or so, where the
overhanging rocks made the path too narrow for loaded camels. It was
quite high enough for their heads, and we had plenty of room. It was
marvellous to see the camels struggling along this road, and awful to
hear their groans and the shouts of the camel-men as they struggled up
and down and in and out of the rocks; and the hubbub and yelling over a
fallen one was simply diabolical.

We had the most tremendous clambering down soon after that, the baggage
being again slung on the poles, and the camels came clattering down, with
many stones, and looking as if they would rush over straight into the
sea.

When we got near the sea, say about 50 feet above it, we, on foot,
diverged from the camel-track, which goes more inland, and followed a
very, very narrow, washed-away path. This I think must have been the one
described by Wellsted, for we were never, till we reached this part, near
the sea, though possibly had we fallen we might have rolled over down a
slope.

The views inland up the rugged yellow crags, covered with verdure and
studded with the quaint gouty trees, are weird and extraordinary, and
below at our feet the waves dashed up in clouds of white spray. Though we
had heard much of the difficulties of this road and the dangers for foot
passengers, and we were told of the bleaching bones of the camels which
had fallen into the abyss below, we experienced none of these hardships.
We certainly saw the bones of one camel below us, but none of ours
followed its example; and we revelled in the beauty of our surroundings,
which made us think nothing of the toilsome scramble up and down the
rocks.

As we left the mountain side and approached the plain of Tamarida, we
passed close by what would seem to have been an ancient ruined fort on
the cliff above the sea, evidently intended to guard this path.



CHAPTER XXXI

TAMARIDA OR HADIBO


Certainly Tamarida is a pretty place, with its river, its lagoon, and its
palms, its whitewashed houses and whitewashed mosques, and with its fine
view of the Haghier range immediately behind it. The mosques are new, and
offer but little in the way of architectural beauty, for the fanatical
Wahhabi from Nejd swept over the island in 1801, and in their religious
zeal destroyed the places of worship; and the extensive cemeteries still
bear testimony to the ravages of these iconoclasts, with their ruined
tombs and overturned headstones.

We encamped on the further side of a good-sized stream or little river,
having it between us and the town of Tamarida or Hadibo; and this was
really a protection to us at night, for the inhabitants of that
neighbourhood are terribly afraid of certain jinni or ghinni, which abide
in the stream, and will not go near it at night. Indeed, we remarked that
it was considered by Hashi and Mahmoud, the two Somali servants, a wise
precaution to draw all the water and bring up the washing, which was
drying, in good time of an afternoon.

They had heard such fearful stories that they were very much afraid of
being bewitched while in the island, though I doubt whether I and my
camera were not nearly as alarming.

They had heard how a Sokotran man had turned a woman of Maskat into a
seal and forced her to swim over to Sokotra in that shape. We were told
that this story is perfectly true!

This evil reputation of the islanders is very persistent. Marco Polo
says: 'The Sokotrans are enchanters, as great as any in the world, though
excommunicated by their prelates therefor; and raise winds to bring back
such ships as have wronged them, till they obtain satisfaction.'

It is only just to say we had no need to fear such honest and friendly
people.

Sultan Salem of Sokotra, the nephew of old Sultan Ali of Kishin, the
monarch of the Mahri tribe, whom we had visited two years before on the
south coast of Arabia, governed the island as his uncle's deputy. He had
a castle at Tamarida of very poor and dilapidated appearance, which he
rarely inhabited, preferring to live in the hills near Garriah, or at his
miserable house at Haula, some eight miles along the coast from Tamarida.
Haula is as ungainly a spot as it is possible to conceive--without water,
without wood, and invaded by sand--quite the ugliest place we saw on the
island, its only recommendation being that during the north-east monsoons
the few dhows which visit the island anchor there, since it affords some
sort of shelter from the winds in that direction, and Sultan Salem has a
keen eye to business.

His Majesty came to visit us, shortly after our arrival at Tamarida, from
his country residence, and favoured us with an audience in the courtyard
of his palace, with all the great men of the island seated around him. He
was a man of fifty, with a handsome but somewhat sinister face; he was
girt as to his head with a many-coloured _kefieh_, and as to his waist
with a girdle supporting a finely inlaid Maskat dagger and a sword. His
body was enveloped in a clean white robe, and his feet were bare.

His conversation, both then and when he returned our visit at our camp,
on which occasion he received a few presents, was solely about the price
of camels and how many we should need. He did not ask us one other
question. He talked little Arabic, being of the Mahri tribe.

We gave him an Enfield carbine of 1863.

On the plain behind Tamarida there is a conical hill about 200 feet high
called Hasan, which has been fortified as an Acropolis, and was provided
with cemented tanks. These ruins have also been called Portuguese, but
they looked to us more Arabic in character.

When one has seen the very elaborate forts erected by the Portuguese on
the coasts of the Persian Gulf and East Africa one feels pretty confident
in asserting that they took no steps to settle themselves permanently in
Sokotra; in fact, their occupation of it only extended over a period of
four years, and the probability is that, finding it harbourless, and
worth little for their purposes of a depôt on the road to India, they
never thought it worth their while to build any permanent edifices.

In the neighbourhood there is a hill where the English are said to have
encamped, and where there are traces of a more ancient civilisation,
probably Portuguese. There are walls of small stones, cased with cement,
and, inside them, a tank with conduits.

Opposite to this hill, and across the stream, is a ruined village, only
one house of which is still inhabited; it has circular walls and a
circular paddock adjoining it for cattle.

It is, perhaps, annoying to have to add another to the list of the many
tongues spoken in the world, but I think there is no room for doubt that
Sokoteri must be added to that already distracting catalogue.

Though Sokotra has been under Mahri rule probably since before our
era--for Arrian tells us that in his day the island of Dioscorida, as it
was then called, was under the rule of the king of the Arabian
frankincense country, and the best days of that country were long before
Arrian's time--nevertheless, the inhabitants have kept their language
quite distinct both from Mahri and from Arabic. Of course it is naturally
strongly impregnated with words from both these tongues; but the
fundamental words of the language are distinct, and in a trilingual
parallel list of close on 300 words, which my husband took down in the
presence of Mahri, Sokoteri and Arabic speaking people on the island, we
found distinctly more in the language derived from an Arab than from a
Mahri source.

In subtlety of sound Sokoteri is painfully rich, and we had the greatest
difficulty in transcribing the words. They corkscrew their tongues, they
gurgle in their throats, and bring sounds from most alarming depths, but
luckily they do not click. They have no word for a dog, for there is not
a dog on the island; neither for a horse nor a lion, for the same reason;
they seemed surprised at the idea that there might be such words in their
language; but for all the animals, trees, and articles commonly found
there they have words as distinct from the Arabic and Mahri as cheese is
from _fromage_.

At Tamarida we annexed a respectable man called Ammar as interpreter. He
was familiar with all the languages spoken in the island, and daily, when
the camp was all pitched and arranged, my husband used to produce a long
list of Arabic words, and Ammar used to sit on his heels and tell the
Mahri and Sokoteri equivalents, the words, however, being for the most
part shouted out in chorus by numerous bystanders. I have since added the
English, and the vocabulary will be found in an appendix.

It was most difficult to get an answer as to anything abstract.

For instance, 'clothes' would be asked, and Ammar, after inquiring if
white clothes were meant, or blue, or black, or red, and being
answered 'any clothes,' would give a list of garments of various shapes.

'Age' was a question that caused a great awkwardness, I am sorry to say.

'Well,' answered Ammar, 'it might be anything--seven, fifteen,
seventy--anything!'

After the greatest invention and planning on our part, we unhappily
thought to put the question in this form:

'How do you say "What is your age?"'

'_My_ age,' said Ammar, '_mine_--well'--with evident annoyance and great
hesitation--'I'm thirty-five--_not_ old--not _old_ at all.'

He is really quite fifty.

On such occasions there had to be a tremendous conversation with the
bystanders.

[Illustration: THEODORE BENT MAKING THE VOCABULARY AT FEREGHET]

I will not say more of the language than that instead of our little word
_I_ the Sokoteri is _hemukomòn_ and the Mahri _evomúhshom_.

I wish we could speak confidently about the origin of the so-called
Bedouin, the pastoral inhabitants of the island, who live in the valleys
and heights of Mount Haghier, and wander over the surface of the island
with their flocks and herds.

It has been often asserted that these Bedouin are troglodytes, or
cave-dwellers pure and simple, but I do not think this is substantially
correct. None of them, as far as we could ascertain, dwell always or by
preference in caves; but all of them own stone-built tenements, however
humble, in some warm and secluded valley, and they only abandon these to
dwell in caves when driven to the higher regions in search of pasturage
for their flocks during the dry season, which lasts from November till
the south-west monsoon bursts in the beginning of June.

Whilst we were on the island the season was exceptionally dry, and most
of the villages in the valleys were entirely abandoned for the mountain
caves.

The Bedou is decidedly a handsome individual, lithe of limb like his
goats, and with a _café-au-lait_-coloured skin; he has a sharp profile,
excellent teeth; he often wears a stubbly black beard and has beautifully
pencilled eyebrows, and, though differing entirely in language, in
physique and type he closely resembles the Bedouin found in the Mahri and
Gara mountains. Furthermore, the mode of life is the same--dwelling in
caves when necessary, but having permanent abodes on the lower lands; and
they have several other striking points in common. Greetings take place
between the Arabian Bedouin and the Sokotran Bedouin in similar fashion,
by touching each cheek and then rubbing the nose. We found the Bedouin of
Mount Haghier fond of dancing and playing their _teherane_, and also
peculiarly lax in their religious observances; and though ostensibly
conforming to Mohammedan practice, they observe next to none of their
precepts; and it is precisely the same with the Bedouin whom we met in
the Gara mountains. There is certainly nothing African about the Sokotran
Bedouin; therefore I am inclined to consider them as a branch of that
aboriginal race which inhabited Arabia, with a language of its own; and
when Arabia is philologically understood and its various races
investigated, I expect we shall hear of several new languages spoken by
different branches of this aboriginal race, and then, perhaps, a parallel
will be found to the proudly isolated tongue of this remote island.

The Bedou houses are round, and surrounded by a round wall in which the
flocks are penned at night; flat-roofed and covered with soil, and inside
they are as destitute of interest as it is possible to conceive--a few
mats on which the family sleep, a few jars in which they store their
butter, and a skin churn in which they make the same. The plan of those
houses that are oblong is that of two circles united by a bit of wall at
one side, the door being at the other. In one house into which my husband
penetrated he found a bundle hanging from the ceiling, which he
discovered to be a baby by the exposure of one of its little feet.

Everything is poor and pastoral. The Bedouin have hardly any clothes to
cover themselves with, nothing to keep them warm when the weather is
damp, save a home-spun sheet, and they have no ideas beyond those
connected with their flocks. The closest intimacy exists between a Bedou
and his goats and his cows; the animals understand and obey certain calls
with absolute accuracy, and you generally see a Sokotran shepherdess
walking before her flock, and not after it. The owners stroke and caress
their little cows until they are as tame as dogs.

The cows in Sokotra are far more numerous than one would expect, and
there is excellent pasturage for them; they are a very pretty little
breed, smaller than our Alderney, without the hump, and with the long
dewlap; they are fat and plump, and excellent milkers.

The Bedou does very little in the way of cultivation, but when grass is
scarce, and consequently milk, he turns his attention to the sowing of
jowari in little round fields dotted about the valleys, with a wall round
to keep the goats off. In each of these he digs a well, and waters his
crop before sunrise and after sunset; the field is divided into little
compartments by stones, the better to retain the soil and water; and
sometimes you will see a Bedou papa with his wife and son sitting and
tilling these _bijou_ fields with pointed bits of wood, for other tools
are unknown to them.

We hired our camels for our journey eastwards from the Arab merchants who
live at Tamarida or Hadibo; they are the sole camel proprietors in the
island, as the Bedouin own nothing but their flocks; and excellent
animals these camels are, too, the strongest and tallest we had seen. Of
our camel-men, some were Bedouin and some were negroes, and we found them
on the whole honest and obliging, though with the usual keen eye for a
possible bakshish, which is not uncommon elsewhere.

The eastern end of Sokotra is similar in character to the western, being
a low continuation of the spurs of Haghier, intersected with valleys, and
with a plateau stretching right away to Ras Momi about 1,500 feet above
the sea-level. This plateau is a perfect paradise for shepherds, with
much rich grass all over it; but it is badly watered, and water has to be
fetched from the deep pools which are found in all its valleys at the
driest season of the year, and in the rainy season these become
impassable torrents, sweeping trees and rocks before them; and the
hillsides up to the edge of the bare dolomitic pinnacles of the Haghier
range are thickly clothed with vegetation.

Three considerable streams run from southward of Mount Haghier,
fertilising three splendid valleys, until the waters, as the sea is
approached, lose themselves in the sand. To the north there are many more
streams, and inasmuch as the sea is considerably nearer, they all reach
it, or, rather, the silted-up lagoons already alluded to.

By the side of these streams innumerable palm-groves grow--in fact, dates
form the staple food of the islanders. And out of the date-tree they get
branches for their hedges, stems for their roofs; the leaf provides them
with their sleeping-mats, and, when beaten on stones, with fibre, with
which they are exceedingly clever in making ropes. Our camel-men were
always at it, and produced, with the assistance of fingers and toes, the
most excellent rope at the shortest possible notice. They also make
strong girdles with this fibre, which the slaves, who are employed in
fertilising the palm-trees, bind round their bodies and the trees so as
to facilitate their ascent, and provide them with a firm seat when the
point of operation is reached. They weave, too, baskets, or, rather,
stiff sacks, in which to hang their luggage on either side of the camel.

A Sokotran camel-man is a most dexterous packer. He must first obliterate
his camel's hump by placing against it three or four thick felt mats or
_nummuds_, and on this raised surface he builds all his luggage,
carefully secured in his baskets, with the result that we never, during
any of our expeditions with camels, had so little damage done to our
property, even though the roads were so mountainous and the box-bushes
were constantly rubbing against the loads. The camels are very fine
specimens of their race, standing considerably higher than the Arabian
animal, and when mounted on the top of our luggage, above the hump thus
unnaturally raised, we felt at first disagreeably elevated.

Whilst on the subject of camels and camel-trappings, I may add that each
owner has his own mark painted and branded on his own property. Some of
these marks consist purely of Himyaritic letters, whilst others are
variants, which would naturally arise from copying a very old-world
alphabetic original. I take these marks to be preserved by the steady
conservatism of the Oriental; we copied many of them, and the result
looks like a partial reproduction of the old Sabæan alphabet, and they
may be seen in an appendix.

Scattered over Sokotra there are numerous villages, each being a little
cluster of from five to ten round or oblong houses and round cattle-pens.
I was informed by a competent authority on the island that there are four
hundred of these pastoral villages between Ras Kalenzia and Ras Momi, a
distance of some seventy odd miles as the crow flies; and from the
frequency with which we came across them during our marches up only a
limited number of Sokotra's many valleys, I should think the number is
not over-estimated. If this is so, the population of the island must be
considerably over the estimate given, and must approach twelve or
thirteen thousand souls; but owing to the migratory nature of the
inhabitants, and their life half spent in houses and half in caves, any
exact census would be exceedingly hard to obtain. The east of the island
is, however, decidedly more populous than the west, as the water supply
is better. We were constantly passing the little round-housed villages,
with their palm-groves and their flocks.



CHAPTER XXXII

WE DEPART FOR THE LAND'S END--_i.e._ RAS MOMI


After leaving Tamarida we spent a night at a place the name of which has
been variously spelt. We decided to spell it Dihelemnitin. It has
otherwise been called Dishelenata, &c. It is a lovely spot, at the
confluence of two streams in a wood of palms, and we had a nice little
flat field to camp in. When I say a field, I mean a wall-supported place
once used as such. We saw very little cultivation except gardens at the
villages, and the palm-trees were for the most part quite neglected. Near
Tamarida we saw just a few fan-palms, and one I remember looked very odd,
as it still retained every leaf it had ever had, and looked like a yellow
tower, with the green leaves at the top. All the rest were bristling,
withered down to the ground.

In South Arabia people are punished if they steal each other's
palm-leaves, as the ribs are valuable for many things as well as the
leaves themselves, but here there are no restrictions of that kind.

There was a good deal of climbing up and down to Saièhen, our next camp.
While we stayed there my husband went about everywhere that he was told
there were ruins or supposed inscriptions, but saw nothing worth
mentioning except the inscribed crosses already alluded to.

At first, after leaving Saièhen, we kept along the lower ground for some
time, passing by Garriah Khor, a very long inlet or lagoon which
stretches inland for at least two miles. We dismounted at Dis'hass,
where, we were told by Ammar, 'the English once had houses.' It was a
mass of ruins.

We went over a pass about 2,500 feet high, and up and down two sets of
hills to a level plain about 1,500 feet high, extending all the way to
Ras Momi. As we ascended we passed a peak 2,000 feet high, called
Gòdahan, which has a great hole in the middle of it, through which a
large patch of sky is visible. We encamped near it, close to the hamlet
of Kit'hab, in a wood of palms and various other trees, full of those
pretty green and grey birds, half parrot and half dove, whose beauty,
however, did not save them from our pot.

From this place and even before we reached it we had very little personal
use of our camels, the clambering up as well as down was so severe.

There is behind the peak of Gòdahan a curious flat ridge, raised not very
many feet above the plateau, which is called Matagioti, and is perfectly
honeycombed with fissures and crevices, offering delightful homes for
people of troglodytic tendencies. Huge fig-trees grow in these crevices,
and dragon's-blood trees, and large herds of cows and goats revel in the
rich carpet of grass which covers the flat surface of the plateau.
Unfortunately, this rich pasture ground is only indifferently supplied
with water. We obtained ours from two very nasty holes where rain-water
had lain, and in which many cattle had washed; and when these dry up the
Bedouin have to go down to the lower valleys in search of it. Before we
left it had assumed the appearance of porter.

There was a great deal of lavender growing about and numerous pretty
flowers, and we found many shells in that place. It was so very cold that
we had a fine bonfire to dine by, and the dew that night was drenching,
pouring off our tents like rain in the morning.

As Ras Momi is approached the country wears a very desolate aspect; there
are no trees here, but low bushes and stunted adeniums covered with
lichen, and looking just like rocks with little bushes on them; very
little water, but plenty of grass.

We encamped near the hamlet of Saihon, where, though there was no
appearance of a mosque, there was not only a mollah but a doctor. The
former was so free from fanaticism as to send us a present of a lamb.

The inhabitants were very friendly to us, and let us go into their houses
and watch their occupations. The women were busy grinding limestone to
make pots; and we obtained a very dirty little bag full of a kind of
organic substance like small white stones, which is ground to powder,
mixed with water into a whitish paste, which after a little time turns
red. I think they paint the pots with it.

They were pleasant looking folk with quite a European cast of
countenance, mostly ugly, and some with scanty beards, and reminding us
strongly of the old frieze of the Parthenon sculptures in the Acropolis
Museum at Athens. Really, they were just like them except for their
colour, which is chocolate brown. We could not help thinking of the
'Moskophoros' when one came up to look at us with a lamb round his neck.
We settled there for several days, not being able to go nearer Ras Momi
for reasons connected with water. I cannot think it could have been
really pleasant to the people of Saihon that we should have drunk up
nearly all their water, and only left a little the colour of coffee
behind us.

We suffered badly while there from two things; firstly from the dreadful
kind of grass upon which we were encamped, and secondly from a regular
gale of wind.

The grass, a _pennisetum_ I believe, is one we knew and hated in
Mashonaland. The seed is like a little grain of very sharp oats, well
barbed, which carries behind it into your clothes a thread like a
fish-hook, about 2 inches long.

As for the wind, when we came home one afternoon we found Matthaios in a
most dreadful state, fearing the tents would be down. He was trying to
get the outer flies off alone, and was delighted when my husband and I,
the only two other experienced tent-dwellers, came to his assistance. For
days we might as well have lived in a drum, for the noise of this
tempest.

There was a little round enclosure to keep goats in; we knew that Hashi
and Mahmoud had taken this as their home, and we were satisfied that no
matter which way the wind blew they were sheltered; but one evening
before dinner we heard that Mahmoud was ill with fever. We both went to
see that he was comfortable, and my husband took him some quinine.

We found Hashi had put him to bed on the windy side of the enclosure,
with a hard, stiff camel-mat under him, one over his body, and a third on
his head. We soon moved him and wrapped him in blankets, and my husband
having got some sacks and other things as a pillow, Hashi put them on the
top of Mahmoud's head. We built up a waterproof tent over him, but soon
had to unpack him, as the village doctor appeared on the scene, demanding
a fee of two annas from my husband.

He began by making several slashes on the top of his head and cupping him
with a horn, which he sucked, gave him some medicine, and having spent a
little time blowing in different directions, settled down, crouching over
the patient, waving his hand as if making passes to mesmerise him, and
muttering a few words alternately with spitting, slightly and often, in
his face.

Our joint efforts were successful in the recovery of Mahmoud, who was
well next day.

It is curious that in this somewhat wild and at present uninteresting
locality we found more traces of ruins and bygone habitations than are
found in any other part of the island. About five miles from Ras Momi,
and hidden by an amphitheatre of low hills on the watershed between the
two seas, we came across the foundations of a large square building,
constructed out of very large stones, and with great regularity. It was
105 feet square; the outer wall was 6 feet thick, and it was divided
inside into several compartments by transverse walls. To the south-east
corner was attached an adjunct, 14 by 22 feet. There was very little soil
in this building; and nothing whatever save the foundations to guide us
in our speculations as to what this could be. Other ruins of a ruder and
more irregular character lay scattered in the vicinity, and at some
remote period, when Sokotra was in its brighter days, this must have been
an important centre of civilisation.

None of the natives would help us to dig in this place. They are very
much afraid of the Devil, and think the ground under the ruins is hollow
and that there is a house in it. At one time hopes were held out that the
sacrifice of a goat might avert danger, but, after all, we and Matthaios
had to do the best we could in the way of digging. We always carried
tools with us. My part consisted in tracing out the walls with the trowel
and moving stones.

My husband and I found it most difficult next day to take the
measurements in the high wind.

From Saihon my husband climbed up a steep and rugged mountain to a ruined
village on a strong place called Zerug. Ammar's family mansion was near:
a cave containing three women, some children, and large flocks of goats,
kept in the cave by a wall; it is heated at night, and very stuffy.

Before leaving this corner of the island we journeyed to the edge of the
plateau and looked down the steep cliffs at the eastern cape, where Ras
Momi pierces, with a series of diminishing heights, the Indian Ocean. The
waves were dashing over the remains of the wreck, still visible, of a
German vessel which went down here with all hands some few years ago, and
the Bedouin produced for our edification several fragments of German
print, which they had treasured up, and which they deemed of fabulous
value. Ras Momi somewhat reminded us of Cape Finisterre, in Brittany, and
as a dangerous point for navigation it also resembles it closely. Near
the summit of one hill we passed an ancient and long disused reservoir,
dug in the side of it, and constructed with stones; and during our stay
here we visited the sites of many ancient villages, and found the cave
charnel-houses already alluded to.

We lunched in a sort of cave, behind some huts on the opposite side of
the valley, if such it may be called, from the bone caves, and were put
to the rout by a serpent, which evidently liked the water in a little
rocky pit in the mouth of the cave. It was horrible stuff, but we had
brought water for our tea with us. Our supposed foe was slain. The
serpent was very pretty, fully a yard long, black and salmon-coloured,
and with a very tapering head and tail. It was said to be poisonous, but
we thought it could not be.

The hills all about Ras Momi are divided into irregular plots by long
piles of stones stretching in every direction, certainly not the work of
the Sokotrans of to-day, but the work of some people who valued every
inch of ground, and utilised it for some purpose or other. The miles of
walls we passed here, and rode over with our camels, give to the country
somewhat the aspect of the Yorkshire wolds. It has been suggested that
they were erected as divisions for aloe-grounds; but I think if this was
the case traces of aloes would surely be found here still. Aloes are
still abundant about Fereghet and the valleys of Haghier, but near Ras
Momi there are none, and it is hard to think what else could grow there
now; but these mountain slopes may not always have been so denuded.



CHAPTER XXXIII

MOUNT HAGHIER AND FEREGHET


After leaving our camp at Saihon we took a path in a south-westerly
direction, and after a few days of somewhat monotonous travelling we came
again into the deeper valleys and finer scenery of the central districts
of the island. Through them we made our way in the direction of Mount
Haghier.

Sokotra without Mount Haghier would be like a body without a soul. The
great mass of mountains which occupies the centre of the island rises in
many jagged and stupendous peaks to the height of nearly 5,000 feet. At
all seasons of the year it catches the fugitive sea mists which so rarely
visit the Arabian coasts, and down its sides flow sparkling streams and
bubbling cascades. The Ghebel Bit Molek (a name which, by the way, sounds
as if it had an Assyrian origin) is the highest peak. It is very sheer
and unapproachable at its summit, and though only 4,900 feet high will
give trouble to the adventurous crag-climber who is bent on conquering
it. Then there are the Driat peaks, the Adouna peaks, and many others
piercing the sky like needles, around which wild goats and civet cats
roam, but no other big game.

In the lower ground are found quantities of wild donkeys, which, the
Bedouin complained, were in the habit of trampling upon and killing their
goats. Whether these donkeys are naturally wild or descendants of escaped
tamed ones I am unable to say. Some are dark and some are white, and
their skins seemed to be more glossy than those of the domestic moke. The
Bedouin like to catch them if they can, with the hope of taming them for
domestic use.

[Illustration: VEGETATION IN SOKOTRA]

The glory of Mount Haghier is undoubtedly its dragon's-blood tree
(_Dracænia cinnabari_), found scattered at an elevation of about 1,000
feet and upwards over the greater part of Sokotra. Certainly it is the
quaintest tree imaginable, from 20 feet to 30 feet high, exactly like a
green umbrella which is just in the process of being blown inside out, I
thought. One of our party thought them like huge green toadstools,
another like trees made for a child's Noah's Ark. The gum was called
_kinnàbare_, but the Arab name is _kàtir_. The Sokoteri name is _edah_.

It is a great pity that the Sokotrans of to-day do not make more use of
the rich ruby-red gum which issues from its bark when punctured, and
which produces a valuable resin, now used as varnish; but the tree is now
found in more enterprising countries--in Sumatra, in South America, and
elsewhere. So the export of dragon's blood from its own ancient home is
now practically _nil_.

If the dragon's-blood tree, with its close-set, radiating branches and
stiff, aloe-like leaves, is quaint--and some might be inclined to say
ugly--it has, nevertheless, its economic use; but not so its still
quainter comrade on the slopes of Mount Haghier, the gouty,
swollen-stemmed _Adenium_. This, I think, is the ugliest tree in
creation, with one of the most beautiful of flowers: it looks like one of
the first efforts of Dame Nature in tree-making, happily abandoned by her
for more graceful shapes and forms. The swollen and twisted contortions
of its trunk recall with a shudder those miserable sufferers from
elephantiasis; its leaves are stiff and formal, and they usually drop
off, as if ashamed of themselves, before the lovely flower, like a
rich-coloured, large oleander blossom, comes out. The adenium bears some
slight resemblance, on a small scale, to the unsightly baobab-tree of
Africa, though it tapers much more rapidly, and looks as if it belonged
to a different epoch of creation to our own trees at home.

Then there is the cucumber-tree, another hideous-stemmed tree, swollen
and whitish; and the hill-slopes covered with this look as if they had
been decorated with so many huge composite candles which had guttered
horribly. At the top of the candle are a few short branches, on which
grow a few stiff crinkly leaves and small yellow flowers, which produce
the edible fruit. This tree, in Sokoteri _kamhàn_, the _Dendrosicyos
Socotrana_ of the botanist, is like the language of the Bedouin, found
only on Sokotra, and is seldom more than 10 or 12 feet in height. It is a
favourite perch for three or four of the white vultures which swarm in
the island, and the picture formed by these ungainly birds on the top of
this ungainly tree is an odd one.

To the south of Mount Haghier one comes across valleys entirely full of
frankincense-trees, with rich red leaves, like autumn tints, and clusters
of blood-red flowers. No one touches the trees here, and this natural
product of the island is now absolutely ignored. Then there are the
myrrhs, also ignored, and other gum-producing plants; and the gnarled
tamarinds, affording lovely shade, and the fruit of which the natives,
oddly enough, do know the value of, and make a cooling drink therewith.
Then there are the tree-euphorbias, which look as if they were trying to
mimic the dragon's blood, the branches of which the natives throw into
the lagoons so that the fish may be killed, and the poisonous milky juice
of which they rub on the bottoms of their canoes to prevent leakage.

Such are among the oddest to look upon of Sokotra's vegetable
productions. Wild oranges, too, are found on Mount Haghier, of a very
rich yellow when ripe, but bitter as gall to eat; and the wild
pomegranate, with its lovely red flowers and small yellow fruit, the
flannelly coating of which only is eaten, instead of the seeds, as is the
case with the cultivated one.

The vegetable world is indeed richly represented in this remote island,
and one could not help thinking what possibilities it would offer for the
cultivation of lucrative plants, such as tobacco, which is now grown by
the natives in small quantities, as is also cotton; and perhaps coffee
and tea would thrive on the higher elevations.

The Bedouin would bring us aloes both in leaf and in solution, in hopes
that we might take a fancy to this venerable Sokotran production. Now a
very little of it is collected, and everybody takes what he likes from
the nearest source, whereas, I believe, in former times, when aloes were
an object of commerce here, the plantations were strictly divided off by
walls, and the owners jealously looked after their property.

The way the aloe-juice is collected is this. As the Abyssinians do when
they are going to wash clothes the aloe-gatherers dig a hole in the
ground and line it with a skin. Then they pile old leaves, points
outward, all round till the pressure makes the juice exude. This at first
is called _taïf diho_, or _riho_, both of the latter words used for
water, though the former is the most usual. It is left till it is firmer
and drier, and this takes about a month. Then it is called _taïf
geshisha_. When it has dried for about six weeks it is nearly hard, and
called _taïf kasahal_. It is exported in skins. The collection of
dragon's blood is carried on just like that of the mastic in Chios. The
drops are knocked off into bags. The drops which come off unbroken are
the most valued, and called _edah amsello_. Then the nice, clean, broken
bits are picked out, and called _edah dakkah_; the refuse, with bits of
dirt, bark, and leaves stuck in it, _edah_. This is made up into cakes
with a little resin and sold very cheap.

My husband as usual made a botanical collection, and I believe it
contained a few novelties; but for further particulars on the flora of
Sokotra and the trees thereof I must refer you to Professor Bailey
Balfour's very huge and equally interesting book. We were so fortunate as
to have it with us, and it added much to our pleasure.

Our way was over broken ground, with little of interest save the lovely
views over mountain and gorge and the many dragon, frankincense, and
myrrh trees, past an open space in which is the village of Jahaida, where
the inhabitants had cultivated some little fields, to Röshi, where there
was no village but a good deal of water. We encamped in a cattle-pen, the
camel-men making themselves a capital house with floors, walls, and sides
of the thick mats of the camels. These mats are really like hard
mattresses, nearly 1 inch thick, and very stiff, about 1 yard long by 2
feet wide.

We always tried to encamp in a field if we could, as then we were sure of
some earth for the tent-pegs. After three days, during which I do not
think our guides knew their way very well, we went over a steep pass, up
and down, into the deep valley of Es'hab. We had wandered about a good
deal backwards and forwards over stony wolds, and the men all disagreed
as to the direction, and we had scrambled up a valley off our road to see
some supposed inscriptions, a much more dangerous place than the Kadhoup
road.

The Es'hab valley, with its rich red stone dotted with green and its
weird trees, forms an admirable foreground to the blue pinnacles of
Haghier--tropical and Alpine at the same time.

The climbing was most tremendous, up first and then down very steeply,
all over large sharp loose stones, till we reached the water, the
camel-men leaning backwards holding their camels by their tails with
all their might by way of putting on the drag. When we reached the valley
we gladly mounted our camels, and squeezed through woods, and often were
nearly torn off. We encamped in a sweet place, with a stream and shade
and a most fragrant carpet of basil, some of which we had in our soup,
and some of which was carried on for future use. We found the management
of our milk-tins rather difficult. We often had to resort to them, for,
surrounded though we were by herds of cattle, the supply of fresh milk
was very irregular: sometimes we could have more than we wanted and at
others none at all. It is pretty dear, too, in Sokotra, as so much is
used up for the _ghi_.

[Illustration: THE BREAKWATER AT FEREGHET]

On January 17 we forced our way on through more woods, the peak of Toff
seeming to fill up the end of the valley, to the Wadi Dishel, and crossed
over to the Wadi Dikadik, where we settled near a wide river in a
beautiful grassy spot, with many trees entwined with monkey-ropes,
rejoicing that on the following day we should reach Fereghe, or Fereghet,
where we intended to rest some time. We had heard from Ammar a delightful
description of it, and as we have so often been disappointed under such
circumstances we said we would take all possible enjoyment out of the
pleasures of hope beforehand. But really this time we had everything we
expected, including a wide rocky river, enabling us to bathe, develop
photographs, and set up a laundry.

Fereghet was, in fact, a most charming spot. Here our tents were pitched
beneath wide-spreading tamarinds, and we could walk in shade for a
considerable distance under these gigantic old trees. Fereghet, moreover,
was the site of an ancient ruined town which interested us exceedingly:
walls, 8 to 10 feet thick, had been constructed out of very large unhewn
boulders externally, filled with rubble, to check the torrent, which in
the rainy season rushes down here carrying all before it to the sea.
These walls, showing much skill in keeping a straight line, are clearly
the work of an age long gone by, when weight-moving was better understood
than it is at present, and doubtless the ruins of Fereghet may be traced
back to the days when Sokotra was resorted to for its gums. The fine old
tamarind-trees had done much to destroy the colossal wall, only about 100
feet of which now remains, still about 5 feet high; but there are many
other traces of ruins and a small fort of later date. It is likely enough
that Fereghet was a great centre of the trade of the island, for
frankincense, myrrh, and dragon's blood grow copiously around, and the
position under the slopes of Haghier, and almost in the middle of the
island, was suitable for such a town.

We opened a tomb not very far from Fereghet with a great block of stone
over it, 6 feet long by 3 feet thick; but the ill-conditioned relatives
of the deceased had placed nothing therein save the corpse; and we were
annoyed not to find any trace of inscriptions near this ruined town,
which might have thrown some light on the subject. All I feel sure of is
that the Portuguese did not build this town, as it is commonly asserted.
In fact we did not see any building on the island which can definitely be
ascribed to that nation.

Below Fereghet the valley gets broader and runs straight down to the sea
at the south of the island, where the streams from Mount Haghier all lose
themselves in a vast plain of sand called Noget, which we could see from
the mountains up which we climbed.

This is the widest point of the island of Sokotra, and it is really only
thirty-six miles between the ocean at Tamarida and the ocean at Noget,
but the intervention of Mount Haghier and its ramifications make it
appear a very long way indeed.

The island to the east and to the west of its great mountain very soon
loses its fantastic scenery and its ample supply of water. The most
remarkable peak we could see from Fereghet was Adouna. The topmost point
of this mountain is split. We saw this clearly afterwards, when we
continued our journey up the valley, but from Fereghet, I found it out by
seeing a small cloud passing through it. To look at the mountains you
would think they were made of black stone with a few patches of red
lichen, but really these patches of red are the natural rock showing
amongst the fine black lichen which covers the mountains.

The channels of the water in the river-bed are shown by this blackness,
and the water looks like an inky stream.

Beyond Fereghet we were near a river the water of which was very low. The
main bed of the water-channel was all black, and above this was a coat of
white over the blackened stones, and as the remaining pools were all
white, I suppose that some white tributary continues flowing later than
the black stream.

The few Bedouin who live round Fereghet were in constant contact with our
camp, as you will understand when you know that our tent was pitched
exactly on their high road--a little narrow path. They behaved most
kindly in going aside. The women used to bring us aloe plants just torn
up, and seemed much disappointed at finding that we did not find any use
for them.

We heard from them that there is only one leper on the island and he
lives alone in the hills.

Our sheltering tamarind-trees, wide-spreading and gnarled, abounded in
doves; some were small ones like ours, and some of the parrot kind, whose
cawing was far from sedative. We enjoyed wandering in the shade of the
fig-trees, wild and unprofitable, the date and other trees. Around us
stood the relics of a bygone race of men, who had ill-naturedly left us
no inscriptions on stone, and no clue to tell us who they were.
Mountains hemmed us in on every side, and any little wind was very
refreshing, for we were only about 400 feet above the sea-level, and
quite sheltered from our now only too-well-known north-east monsoon. On a
kind of promontory by a deep pool in the river is a building of stones
and mortar, later in style than the wall and equally inexplicable,
probably a fort.

It is impossible to describe the fantastic beauty of the delightful
Fereghet. We were quite sorry to leave it on January 24. We rode a little
way along the river, passing a single fan-palm-tree, very tall and bare,
and then had another great climb up and down. We passed a good many old
tombs, which had been opened. They were made of large slabs. We found one
in the evening not far from our camp, so we opened it the following
morning before starting. After a great deal of trouble with the pickaxes
and crowbar nothing was found but bones. We measured the top stone, 6
feet 5 inches by 2 feet 10 inches and 1 foot 5 inches thick.

We next scrambled up a wooded mountain, steep enough, but nothing to the
downward scramble. There was no particular road: one had to stick one's
heels into trailing masses of sharp chips and blocks of red stone and let
them slide as short a way as they would. The booted portion of our party
began to feel great anxiety as to foot-gear. We wondered if our boots
could possibly last to Tamarida where we had left a good deal of baggage,
_i.e._ clothes that we had needed on the steamer. We used to apply the
gums of various trees to the soles and toes to retard consumption. The
camels sat down and slid, or looked as if they were doing so; the
camel-men, holding the tails, nearly lay on their backs; but we reached
the river safely, encamped there, and rode most of next day up a valley,
crossing the water often. We had to wind in and out of clumps of trees,
sometimes lying on our camels to get under branches, and finally,
after going through thick woods, stopped at the foot of some mighty
mountains.

Though many of our camps on Mount Haghier and the expeditions therefrom
were very delightful, I think this one, called Yehazahaz, was decidedly
the prettiest. It was low down on the southern slope of Mount Haghier;
our tents were pitched in a grove of palm-trees at the meeting of two
rushing streams; tangled vegetation hung around us on every side, and
whichever way we looked we had glimpses of granite peaks and rugged
hill-sides clad with dragon's-blood. The village was quite hidden by
trees and creepers, but its inhabitants were away on the higher
pasturage, and our men occupied the empty tenements.

[Illustration: DRAGON'S-BLOOD TREES AT YEHAZAHAZ]

We stayed there a couple of days, and the first evening as we were
sitting in our tent after tea, a tremendous noise and shouting proceeded
from the direction of our kitchen. This proved to be occasioned by the
discovery of some long-suspected sugar thieves. They were the three
youngest of our camel-drivers. They were all tied to a palm-tree with
their arms round it, and Ammar began scourging them with a rope. I begged
them off; my husband thought I had been foolish, particularly as the
scourging had not been ordered by him. The boys certainly did not seem to
mind it a bit. However, the elder men consulted and Ammar brought a rupee
next morning as a fine, which my husband thought it right to accept.

The red mountains here assume a greyish-white appearance. The land shells
seemed to grow larger on the tops of the mountains. We found some about 3
inches in length.

On leaving Yehazahaz there was no riding for us, but a climb afoot
straight up a steep pass and down across a river and over a second pass.
The way was mostly rough and through woods, but there were a few little
grassy bits. We descended only about 100 feet and pitched our tents on a
flattish, spongy piece of grass, near a pretty streamlet overhung with
begonias and many other flowers, at a spot called Adahan, where a sort of
pass winds its way between the granite peaks. We were encamped for
several days at an elevation of close on 3,000 feet above the sea-level.
Here, when the mist came down upon us, we were enveloped in clouds, rain,
and wretchedness; but the air to us was cool and invigorating, though I
fear our scantily clad attendants found it anything but agreeable.

There were drawbacks, too, to the enjoyment of our mountain camps in the
shape of several kinds of pernicious grasses, which grew thickly round
our tent, and the seeds of which penetrated relentlessly into everything.
Grass thorns invaded our day and night raiment, getting into places
hitherto deemed impregnable, and the prickly sensation caused by them was
irritating to both body and mind.

From Adahan one could easily ascend to the highest ground; though perhaps
one ought not to say easily, for climbing is no joke up here, through
dense vegetation and rocky gullies. Looking down into the gorges, we
enjoyed some splendid effects, and were constantly reminded of the Grand
Corral of Madeira.

There were many trees and flowering shrubs, rocky needles, and pinnacles
all around us, and a view of the ocean to the north; and by climbing up
we could catch sight of the ocean to southward too.

My husband tried to ascend the highest peak in the island--Driate it is
called by the Bedouin--but when he had gone as far as possible the peak
soared above him about 400 feet sheer and impracticable, quite bare of
vegetation. An Alpine Club would find plenty of amusement in Sokotra. The
bottoms and sides of the valleys, filled with bulbous plants and rank
vegetation, enormous dragon's-blood-trees, the long valleys of Fereghet
and Yehazahaz winding their way to the coast, the rugged mass of Bit
Molek, and the view over both seas make, my husband said, as interesting
a natural view as it is possible to conceive. The clouds had fortunately
rolled themselves up for the occasion.

We had, however, during our stay so much wet that we had a special fire
to dine by, and by it a very rudely constructed clothes-horse to dry our
dripping garments. Our kitchen fire was the constant resort of the
Bedouin of the neighbourhood, coming to see us and bring provisions to
sell. We had plenty of milk and one day bought a tiny calf for three
rupees. The camel-men who skinned it tried to keep the head as their
perquisite, but Matthaios secured it and put it in our soup. To our
surprise the two Somali servants, Hashi and Mahmoud, would in consequence
eat none of the soup nor any meat. They usually ate anything that was
going.

A lame Bedou brought us some green oranges and potatoes, which were
really the roots of a convolvulus: they were not bad when baked in the
ashes, but hard when boiled. He also brought us a sweet herb which they
use to stuff pillows with. The greetings of the Bedou always amuse us;
they first put cheek to cheek and then rub noses in the most
matter-of-fact way, so we may infer that this mode of salutation is in
vogue in the Mahra country. It was pleasant to be among such friendly
people, who had no horror of us and did not even seem much surprised at
seeing us there, and to be able to go off quite alone for a scramble so
safely.



CHAPTER XXXIV

BACK TO THE OCEAN


After several days at Adahan we climbed down northward. Our journey was
only three miles along a very narrow valley, but we made much more of it
climbing after plants and shells. We stopped at the first little flat
place that would hold our tents, a sort of small shelf more than
knee-deep in that awful grass; and though we really enjoyed that camp for
two days, pain was our portion all the time. The scenery was magnificent,
and all the more striking that the mountains, having cast off their
lichen covering, gleamed out in their glowing red. All round us there was
such steepness that it was a work of great difficulty to set up my camera
anywhere.

We had a very steep descent after that over sharp stones to the plain, my
husband and I, as usual, when on foot, starting before the others, and
though we were sorry when we finally quitted the mountains, we were glad
enough to find ourselves on our camels again, to be carried to Suk, where
we decided to stay, as we heard that the sultan's boat was there and the
sultan himself was not so very far off. We wished to engage the ship for
our return to Aden.

Before leaving the s.s. _Canara_ my husband had begged the captain to
take a letter to Bombay requesting that the B.I.S.N. Co. would send a
steamer for us, and let us know about it by some dhow. A dhow had arrived
from Bombay with no letter for us, but with news of the plague: so we
became afraid that if the plague prevented the steamer from coming and
we waited for it, we might have to stick on Sokotra during the whole of
the south-west monsoon. My husband therefore began parleying about
sailing-boats and had sent Ammar from Adahan, and the sultan had sent his
captain up to meet us.

Dr. Schweinfurth sees in the present name of Sokotra a Hindoo origin, and
the survival of the Hindoo name Diu Sukutura, which the Greeks, after
their easy-going fashion, changed into Dioscorides. This is very
ingenious and most likely correct. When the Portuguese reached the island
in 1538, they found the Arab sheikh dwelling at the capital called Zoko,
now in ruins, and still called Suk, a survival doubtless of the original
name.

The old capital of Zoko is a delicious spot, and the ruins are buried in
groves of palm-trees by the side of a large and deep lagoon of fresh
water; this lagoon is only separated from the sea by a narrow belt of
sand and shingle, and it seems to me highly probable that this was the
ancient harbour where the boats in search of the precious products of the
island found shelter. The southern coast of Arabia affords many instances
of these silted harbours, and the northern coast of Sokotra is similar,
many of the lagoons, or _khors_ as they call them, being deep and running
over a mile inland. The view at Suk over the wide lagoon fringed with
palm groves, on to the jagged heights of Mount Haghier rising immediately
behind, is, I think, to be placed amongst the most enchanting pictures I
have ever seen.

Extensive excavation at Suk might probably bring to light some
interesting relics of the earlier inhabitants of this island, but it
would have to be deep, as later edifices have been erected here; and
labour and tools would have to be brought from elsewhere.

The present capital is called Tamarida by Arabs and foreigners, and
Hadibo by the natives, and its construction is quite of a modern date;
the name is apparently a Latinised form of the Arabic _tamar_, or date
fruit, which tree is largely cultivated there.

Much is said by old writers about the Greek colonists who came to Sokotra
in ancient times, but I cannot help thinking that the Hellenic world
never carried its enterprise much in this direction, for, if the Greeks
did, they have left no trace whatsoever of their existence there.

I should think few places in the world have pursued the even tenor of
their way over so many centuries as Sokotra has. Yakut, writing seven
hundred years ago, speaks of the Arabs as ruling here; the author of the
'Periplus' more than one thousand years ago tells us the same thing; and
now we have a representative of the same country and the same race
governing the island still.

Sokotra has followed the fortunes of Arabia; throughout, the same
political and religious influences which have been at work in Arabia have
been felt here. Sokotra, like Arabia, has gone through its several stages
of Pagan, Christian, and Mohammedan beliefs.

The first time the island came in contact with modern ideas and modern
civilisation was when the Portuguese occupied it in 1538, and this was,
as we have seen, ephemeral. Then the island fell under the rod of Wahabi
persecution at the beginning of this century, as did nearly the whole of
Arabia in those days. In 1835 it was for a short time brought under
direct British influence, and Indian troops encamped on the plain of
Tamarida. It was then uncertain whether Aden or Sokotra would be chosen
as a coaling station for India, and Lieutenant Wellsted was sent in the
_Palinurus_ to take a survey of it; but doubtless the harbourless
condition of the island, and the superior position of Aden in that
respect, caused the decision in favour of Aden.

The advantages Aden afforded for fortification and for commanding the
mouth of the Red Sea influenced the decision, and Sokotra, with its fair
mountains and rich fertility, was again allowed to relapse into its
pristine state of quiescence, and the British soldier was condemned to
sojourn on the barren, burning rocks of Aden, instead of in this island
paradise.

Finally, in 1876, to prevent the island being acquired by any other
nation, the British Government entered into a treaty with the sultan, by
which the latter gets 360 dollars a year, and binds himself and his heirs
and successors, 'amongst other things, to protect any vessel, foreign or
British, with the crew, passengers, and cargo, that may be wrecked on the
island of Sokotra and its dependencies,' and it is understood that the
island is never to be ceded to a foreign power without British consent.

A more peaceful, law-abiding people it would be hard to find
elsewhere--such a sharp contrast to the tribes on the South Arabian
coast. They seem never to quarrel amongst themselves, as far as we could
see, and the few soldiers Sultan Salem possesses have a remarkably easy
time of it. Our luggage was invariably left about at night without anyone
to protect it, and none of it was stolen, and after our journeys in
Southern Arabia the atmosphere of security was exceedingly agreeable.

The only thieves were the white and yellow vultures who sat on guard
around our kitchen and were always ready to carry off our meat, and made
many valiant attempts to do so.

Money is scarce in the island, and so are jealousies, and probably the
Bedouin of Sokotra will remain in their bucolic innocence to the end of
time, if no root of bitterness in the shape of modern civilisation is
planted amongst them.

It is undoubtedly a providential thing for the Sokotran that his island
is harbourless, that his mountains are not auriferous, and that the
modern world is not so keen about dragon's-blood, which is still called
'the blood of two brothers,' frankincense and myrrh, as the ancients
were. A thing we regretted very much in leaving Sokotra was the
delightful peace of travelling without an armed escort, which we had not
enjoyed for years; we knew we should soon be travelling again with
soldiers in Arabia.

There is a wretched hamlet of Somali at Suk, which had been visited by us
from Hadibo. We had only one night at Suk, and in the morning my husband
and Matthaios went off on foot to Haulah or Haulaf to see the boat. This
is where the sultan lives. I believe the boat was actually at Khor
Dilisha. They did not think it would have been so far or they would have
taken camels. It was a three-mile tramp in the sand.

My husband and Matthaios came back from Haulah very hot and tired, not
having seen the sultan; he was sleeping or praying all the time, the mode
in which Moslems say 'not at home'--in short he was keeping out of the
way. They described the boat as everything that was delightful, though
people not so well accustomed as we were to voyaging in these ships might
not agree with them, but it was impossible to come to terms. They had had
a very stormy interview with the sultan's captain, who said that 1,000
rupees was the lowest price. My husband said he had paid no more for the
steamer, and we had all had beds provided and food; 800 was his highest
price.

The sultan has a miserable house in a very uncomfortable spot, surrounded
by a few huts belonging to fishermen, who go out on little rafts made of
bundles of palm-leaf ribs to drop the traps for fish.

[Illustration: THE HAGHIER MOUNTAINS FROM SUK

(_From a water-colour sketch by Theodore Bent_)]

We then moved to Hadibo again, going along the shore, and encamping quite
in a different place to that in which we were at first; we were in a nice
date grove by the lagoon and close to the beach. We now commenced a
time of dreadful uncertainty as to how or when we could leave the island.

Hearing nothing from the sultan, Matthaios was sent on a camel to offer
800 rupees, and returned most indignant, 2,000 being the lowest price
asked, _i.e._ 124_l._ Later the captain came, agreed to the 800, and said
my husband must pay 400 at sunset to get wood and water. As the men never
came for the money till we were in bed, they were sent off till next
morning, when they came very early and asked for paper to write the
contract. My husband produced some, with pen and ink. They said they
could only write with a pencil, but when that was got the captain said
500 must be paid: he did not want it himself, nor yet the sultan, but the
sailors did; my husband then said he would complain to the Wali of Aden,
and they all suddenly departed, and the captain, we heard, went to
Kadhoup, where there was another boat, in order to prevent its owner
spoiling the sultan's bargain.

Two days after we had a message to say we were to pay the whole 800
rupees at once, that the sultan was coming to fetch it himself, and that
we should positively start that day.

No sultan came, but next day a very affectionate letter from him said he
would come round with the ship at sunset. We had to forgive his
non-appearance that time, as there was such a storm that we could not, in
any case, have passed the surf. Next day he came by land to the castle,
where we had seen him, and sent to ask my husband to bring the money; so
he went, attended by myrmidons bearing money-bags, pen, and paper, but as
the sultan would not sign the contract, the money was brought back. At
midday there was an apology sent with two lambs and a little calf, and at
sunset the sultan really arrived at our camp, signed the contract, and
carried off the money; so we left next day.

We had plenty to do, so were quite occupied all this time. I used to
develop photographs, for I had my dark tent set up. I had awful trials to
bear. The water was so warm that the gelatine frilled in spite of alum,
and what was worse, when I put the negatives in the hyposulphate of soda
they ran off their supports like so much hot starch. Some I saved, but I
never dared do more than carefully dip them in the 'hypo,' and even then
it seemed to froth up at once. I had a good many negatives marked by
this, and had to smooth off the bubbles with my hands, regardless of
their colour, and I had to work at night for coolness.

We had very little milk while there; none till the last two days. A man
was drinking a bowlful in our camp, and this is the surprising way in
which he did it: he dipped his hand in and sucked his fingers (not clean
ones at first), and so continued till he had finished it all up. Our
visitors used sometimes suddenly to hurry off to pray, choosing a bit of
damp sand, and when they returned some of the sand was sticking to their
foreheads. The longer that sand stayed on the better, as it was
considered a sign of a religious man.

We had an anxious battle with white ants also. A basket was nearly
devoured by them, but our best steamer raiment was preserved by the inner
lining of American cloth, though they were sitting on it in sheets. We
had remarked in South Africa that they never eat mackintosh. The basket
was brushed over the sea, steeped in the lagoon, and inundated with
boiling water. This was the only thing attacked of all that we had left
behind when we were in Hadibo the first time.

Our brown ship, 70 feet in length by 15 wide, did really look a very
'mere nutshell' to go 500 miles over the great ocean in, but it was far,
far better than some we had been in.

From the deck Sokotra looked almost too beautiful to leave.

The weather was very rough, the sailors not nearly ready, and it was
midday before we started. By this time all the servants were prostrate,
and my husband had to get the sailors to help him in setting up our beds,
and arranging the baggage in the place between decks astern, which was 3½
feet high, and, as the beds had to be tied to each other, 2 feet apart,
as well as to the sides of the ship, we had to bend low and step high
when moving about. The two Somali servants managed wonderfully to take it
in turns to be well after a bit, but Matthaios was one of the worst, so
food was a difficulty and his wrath was great when, Mahmoud having made
us tea like ink, he found the tea canister empty. We had rough weather
enough, but the wind was favourable. We were always afraid of falling off
our seats at meals, for we were perched anywhere, on anything we could
get, round our kitchen box as a table. Bruises alone were not the cause
of our terror, but the fact is that the sailors were always shaking their
raiment and making those searching and successful investigations,
accompanied by that unmistakable movement of the elbows and backs of the
thumb-nails, which literally 'give one the creeps.'

The captain had a compass, but no other instrument of any kind, and none
of the sailors seemed to know the way. They showed us islands, which we
knew to be such, as the African coast, and Cape Guardafui where we knew
it could not be.

On the third evening we saw the Asiatic coast, and at sunset we saw the
jagged Jebel Shemshan very far away, and of course hoped to see it nearer
next day. But when we woke in the morning, my husband went out to see the
cause of the unusual rocking of the ship and still more unusual silence,
and found everyone asleep and the ship lying to out of sight of any land.

The captain said they imagined we had passed Aden in the dark, and
thinking they should soon be among rocks or coral-reefs had stopped; a
dreadful uproar then arose, and everyone on the ship shouted different
directions for steering. My husband desired them to steer north that we
might find land, as none of them had any idea of our longitude. At last
we saw a steamer, presumably from Aden, and getting north of her and
steering west we at length had Africa on our port side again, and reached
Aden by the following sunrise, though it took us till two o'clock to get
into port.



BELED FADHLI AND BELED YAFEI



CHAPTER XXXV

EXPERIENCES WITH THE YAFEI SULTAN


In the same year, 1897, soon after our return thither from Sokotra, we
left Aden to explore the Yafei and Fadhli countries. Our preparations for
this expedition were made under quite different and much happier
circumstances from those which attended our last journey from Aden to the
interior of Arabia, _i.e._ the Hadhramout. We received every help that
could be given us by General Cuningham, Colonel Hayes-Sadler, Captain
Wadeson, and, indeed, everyone from whom we asked assistance was most
kind. We took with us only our servant Matthaios, the Greek, Musaben, an
elderly man from the Aden troup, as jemadar or manager of the soldiers
and go-between generally; and three or four soldiers. No interpreter was
necessary, I am glad to say, this time.

We left Sheikh Othman on February 28, 1897, for our nine hours' ride to
Bir Mighar, sorry to have to make so long a journey the first day. At
first we went past pretty gardens and villas, but soon left these traces
of civilisation behind us, and the way went through desert, sometimes
salty, sometimes sandy, sometimes bare, and sometimes with low bushes,
now straight, and at others wending among sand-hills with cliffs to
leeward, and ribbed and rippled like water. In some parts every trace of
path is smothered by sand, and quicksand also must be warily avoided. We
passed the ruins of an old town near Sheikh Othman, and five miles on,
Imad, a wretched-looking collection of brushwood huts around a dar, or
tower, still in English land.

This place is, about Christmas time, the scene of a fair to which all the
neighbouring tribes gather, so a good study can be made of the native
tongues.

A few patches of ground had the sand scraped off into banks, and were
awaiting rain to sow some crops for fodder, but looked as if they had
been waiting a long time. This caravan road across the Abyan is very old;
its monotony is inexpressible, for the nine hours to Bir Mighar. At the
sixth hour the road to Hawash goes off to the left. As we approached the
well of Mighar the signs of population increased, and a few scrubby
acacias grow near. There are two wells a mile apart; the farther, where
we encamped, was once protected by a fort, now in ruins. A few years ago
a hundred Yafei surprised the Fadhli, and sacked the fort, which has not
since been repaired. Many parties of travellers were gathering round this
well for the night; one husband and wife who took alternate charge of a
baby slung in a straw cradle and a goat; another pair with their
household goods, baby, and many fowls on a camel, while they were each
laden with more fowls.

We passed a cold night, and were very tired; our things, having been
packed on board the baggalla in which we came from Sokotra, were not in
marching order. We only made a short journey of six miles next day past
Al Khabt, which was just the same sort of place as Imad. We had to take a
most circuitous route to reach it, and it was hard to realise that all
the banks we wound amongst were fields waiting for rain. Hagheri Ask, our
next halt, was even a yet more wretched hamlet--about six reed huts, and
about as many goats and jackal-like dogs.

[Illustration: THE

FADHLI COUNTRY

SOUTH ARABIA.

From a sketch survey by

M^r. J. THEODORE BENT.

1897.

_Stanford's Geog.^l Estab.^t, London_

London: Smith, Elder & Co.]

Our tents were most unsteadily pitched on sand. There is a good well, and
there has been a village here 'from the first,' as the Arabs say. There
are many traces of antiquity; and numerous pieces of glass, good pottery,
and bangles lie about. There are three ruined tombs and some smaller ones
of mud bricks, and they make mud bricks there still. The villages of the
Abyan are most poverty-stricken places.

The first day we had our camels loaded with jowari, and at Bir Mighar we
took up fuel. From Hagheri Ask to Kanfar is about six miles, and we spent
two hours over it. Trees became more numerous, good large ones, chiefly
arrack and acacia, and a few small fan-palms. There were quantities of
birds' nests, in every way a contrast to ours; for, instead of warm
woolly ones, safe from wind and rain in the innermost recesses of our
soft-leaved, easily climbed trees, these were loose open-work airy little
baskets, dancing on the outer tips of the thorny branches. The scenery in
the desert part was much improved by mirages of beautiful blue lakes and
streams, nearly under our feet. Once, on the journey, we thought the
piping times of peace had come to an abrupt end. The army of three became
a vanguard, one who was riding having very suddenly turned himself into
infantry, the guns were taken out of their calico bags and cocked, but
the supposed enemy turned out to be only six or eight men carrying great
rolls of skins and huge dry gourds for sale, so the rifles were packed up
again. Some had Martini-Henrys and one or two of the camel-men had
matchlocks.

Since leaving the British Empire we had been in the Fadhli country till
we reached the Wadi Banna, or Benna, the boundary between the Beled
Fadhli and Beled Yafei, then winding indeed was our way, for we were in
thick wood; swords and daggers had to be used to cut a path, and we were
brought to a standstill more than once, with our heads bent under
trees, not daring to lift them. It would be easy for the inhabitants to
stop an enemy's attack here. The smell of the arrack is not at all
pleasant. Two Fadhli were once directed into the Banna bed by the Yafei
of Al Husn, and when they were in the wood they set fire to it and burnt
them. The inhabitants do not venture off the path. There are quicksands
in some parts of the wadi.

[Illustration: CASTLE AT KANFAR]

We encamped not far from the town of Kanfar, amongst some large arrack
bushes on the sand, and surrounded by mounds scattered over with bits of
glass. There has been a succession of towns here, and the present one is
situated on large mounds near some somewhat ruinous forts. It would take
an immense quantity of digging to come on Himyaritic remains. Many gold
coins are found, and set on the jembias; our old Musàben had two on his
dagger, about four hundred years old. We were told that Boubakr-bin-Saïd,
sultan of the lower Yafei, was to come in two days to keep the feast of a
saint, Wali Abdullah-bin-Amr, who is buried here. In the meantime we
surveyed our surroundings while awaiting his coming. The ground under the
arrack bushes is perforated through and through by rats with bushy tips
to their tails, as far as the utmost branch extends. Sometimes we felt
our feet sinking, and discovered we were walking over the site of a
vanished bush. There is an old ruined castle, with pretty herring-bone
patterns and open-work windows. The principal well, a little distance
from the town, is very close by the present fortress, where the sultan
lives. There is a gunpowder factory of a primitive kind, for there is
plenty of saltpetre to be found close by. We went all about the village
quite comfortably with a couple of Yafei guards, and the people were
civil. We saw curious ovens, like pots with lids, and oxen returning with
the dustpans they use for scraping the sand off the cultivable soil, and
many preparations for the feast in the way of food and very smart new
indigo-dyed clothes. Photography, sketching, and unpacking the gifts for
the sultan occupied our time. The mosquitoes were awful.

The sultan came to visit us very suddenly on the afternoon of his
arrival--a rather handsome, sly-looking man. He wore a purple velvet
jacket embroidered with gold, and a many coloured turban and waist-cloth
forming a petticoat to his knees and leaving his fat legs bare. His
complexion is of a greenish brown. His first question was as to my
husband's age, that of the Wali of Aden, and of various other officials.
He brought some honey and made himself most agreeable till we spoke of
going to Al Kara. He then immediately began to speak of danger. He read
the letter of introduction with more discretion than I have observed in
any of the Arab sultans I have seen. Instead of reading to a crowd of
slaves, he banished all but one very confidential, though dirty man, who
was lame and carried a long lance adorned with silver bands, and read
this letter and one previously sent. When he left, my husband told him
the sooner he sent a message as to the possibilities of going to Al Kara
the better it would be for him; and we also told Musàben to tell the
Bedouin there would be money for them, and also to mention to the sultan
that we had a gun that he might hope for.

It appeared, after much fruitless negotiation, that the sultan was
determined to cheat the Bedouin. He arrived very soon after breakfast,
_i.e._ before seven, and demanded 500 rupees for himself, which he
immediately lowered of his own accord to 400 rupees, and gave us to
understand danger would be averted if we paid this sum. He carried off
100 rupees for coffee and a bundle of turbans and other garments. No one
but Musàben was to know of the money, and the fat parcel he himself
stuffed into the clothes of his dirty confidant, explaining to us and
them that he should only show an aluminium box as his sole gift, and
walked off holding it ostentatiously between his finger and thumb. Later
we walked round the castle, and were let into the courtyard. The sultan
saw us from a window in his tower, and beckoned us up. We had to go
through gateways on all sides of the tower, so that they can quite
command the entrance. We went up a high winding stair to a room about 10
feet square, where we sat on the floor and had coffee with cloves and no
sugar, and a coarse kind of sweetmeat. His first question was, 'Where is
the gun?' I said, 'Where is Al Kara?' So he laughed merrily, and said,
'You shall not go to Al Kara till I have the gun.' So I told him he
should not have the gun till we had been. He then told my husband he must
pay 1,000 rupees and the gun first, and he would manage the Bedouin; but
my husband said he would pay afterwards, and not more than 400 rupees. So
this conversation went on, and we left. Musàben was surprised that we had
been admitted.

We spent our days taking long walks in the cultivated fields, stepping on
banks between the canals, or _abrs_. There were many trees, and acres of
dukhan grown for making oil, gilgil, and other crops; and the shade, the
birds, the greenery, and water made it a pleasant relief from the sandy
mounds. The workpeople are slaves of the subordinate race of Hagheri.
There are really very few Arabs. Watchmen or scarecrows, with long canes,
stand on high platforms scattered about. The old well has very-much-worn
stones round its mouth, and had once an extensive building over it. Corn
is ground in a mill made from the hollowed trunk of a tree, with a camel
going round and round. It was amusing to see the little children with
their arms held aloft bound up in leaves to their elbows, to keep their
hands nice, as they had been dyed with henna for the festival.

Jebel Gabeil is the acropolis of the ancient Kanfar, about 200 feet high
and a quarter of a mile long, with a double fort on the top, containing
an area of about 100 square yards. The outer wall is built of fine large
stones, and the interior has a beautiful foundation, evidently
Himyaritic, and commands an extensive view. The tomb of the saint whose
feast it was is surrounded with tombs, all in disrepair, but covered with
very pretty carved wood. The procession passed our camp both going and
coming, and was an interesting sight. Quite early I was begged to come
out and see crowds of women and girls, who had come to visit me with
their new clothes, some indigo-dyed and some of red ingrain. They wear
the same shape as in the Hadhramout, but do not cover their faces. They
have a good deal of jewellery, and paint their faces yellow. I did not
see any of the fantastic patterns I saw in the Hadhramout on the faces.
First came four men with lances, dancing to and fro, then the sultan on a
camel, dressed in red and purple and gold, and after him about thirty
soldiers. A large white and red flag followed. On his return the sultan
stopped and delivered a short address, the bystanders assenting by
shouting 'Nahm! Nahm!'

The sultan came constantly, always raising his demands.

One afternoon he came and said 'Where is the gun?'

'Under that bed; you cannot have it now.'

'I should like to see the cartridges,' said the sultan.

'They are packed up.'

My husband then did what might seem rude here but is all the fashion
there: he walked out of the tent and went off a little distance with
Matthaios and Musàben to have a consultation; and the sultan got up and
stood craning his neck and trying to listen, but I chattered and babbled
to him to prevent his doing so, and finding he could hear nothing he said
in a very cajoling sort of tone:

'Al Kara is such a very nice place! you would like to see it,' and asked
me just to let him see the gun and some more clothes, and when my husband
returned begged for more money; but he put on an air of great indignation
and impatience and said:

'When we say a thing once it is enough,' and when the sultan began again
he said 'Bas!' (Enough!) so loud that his majesty hastily departed.

Finally, when he could not get what he wanted, and we saw it was not safe
to trust ourselves in the hands of so shifty a man, he became so
insistent that my husband told him 'he had seen enough of him; he might
leave our camp; we would not travel with him.' Off went the sultan in
such a hurry that he left his stick behind, and sent us a message that we
were not to pass another night in his country. We sent back a message
that we would not stir till morning. When the sultan was gone we had tea,
and I was talking to a dirty little boy of five called Boubakr and a
bigger one called Ali, to whom I was giving lumps of sugar dirtied by the
journey. We were laughing well at the sultan, calling him all sorts of
names expressing our scorn of his meanness, when to our amusement we
found these were his sons. He came himself about dawn next day to say we
were to go back over the Wadi Banna, and not the shortest way to the part
of the Fadhli country, which is beyond the Yafei, unless we gave him more
money. We would not speak to him ourselves, so he had to talk with the
servants (who were continuing packing) all the while, and, we let him see
the greatest amusement on our part. Musàben was most anxious to go on,
but the difficulties delighted Matthaios, as he was so frightened that he
wished to go back at any price. When we did go, about six o'clock, we
only went a very little way in the prescribed direction, then turned
round, and took the path we desired, our army now being a rearguard,
rushing up hillocks to watch for pursuers. We reached Al Khaur, a
village with many ruined castles, and camped in frightful dust. The Wazir
Abdullah bin Abdurrahman had been sent by the Fadhli sultan to welcome
us. He proved a very agreeable travelling companion. He is young and
refined looking.

We saw a great deal of cattle about. There is a sheer rock overhanging
the village 1,000 feet above the plain. My husband ascended Jebel Sarrar
to see the ruins. A fine paved road, protected by forts, climbs up past a
curious square stone said to be full of money, and goes zigzag through a
narrow gully like the walls at Zimbabwe. My husband having heard of the
stone from the wazir, very much astonished the guides by pointing it out
to them and saying 'There is money in that stone.' At the top there is a
very strong fortress with many walls, and three cisterns just like the
smaller of the tanks at Aden, with steps down into them, all covered with
cement. This has been a very strong fortification, protecting and
overlooking the whole of the Abyan from Jebel Goddam beyond Shukra to
Jebel Shemshan at Aden. The Abyan is the low plain by the sea.

The following day we started for Dirgheg. The country is all irrigated by
water brought from Masana by a channel called Nazai. At the corner of the
Wadi Hassan the _abrs_ branch off in every direction. The sources belong
to the Yafei, and the Fadhli pay them annually 25 Maria Theresa dollars,
a basket of dates, and a turban for the sultan, but the management is in
the hands of seyyids in _inam_ for ever, they being supposed to be
neutral, for fear a war might produce a drought. Still, in time of war
the water often is cut off. The banks of the abrs were full of castor-oil
bushes, cotton, myrtle and tamarisk, all smothered with a pretty creeper
covered with yellow flowers and little scarlet gourds.

Dirgheg lies just on the left bank of the Wadi Hassan in an almost desert
place. There are many dars, or towers, where the wealthy Arabs, of whom
there is a considerable population, live. The servile tribe of Hagheri
live in reed huts; we saw them threshing gilgil and vetch. There are a
market and a few shops. I had no trouble about taking photographs. Once,
however, one of our attendants asked a man to move out of my way and gave
him a little push. Out he pulled his ghembia, and there was a scrimmage
very dangerous to my camera and its appurtenances, as they were going to
be used as weapons of defence by our attendants. I rushed into the midst,
and they stopped fighting to tell me not to be afraid, and peace was
restored. I think it requires some courage to plunge out of the tent into
the burning sand with the camera, but it never seems so hot once one is
out. We were given over by our soldiers to the charge of two inhabitants
of Dirgheg, and were quite elated at hearing on other authority than our
own, 'They can speak Arabic.'

[Illustration: DIRGHEG]

We had on our return to the camp the delightful pleasure of a letter from
Sultan Boubakr, making another try for the gun, and saying he would come
and take us to Al Husn. The messenger was fetched, and scornfully told by
my husband that it was too late; we would not think of travelling with so
bad a man. I said, 'You have a great thief for your sultan, and a great
liar,' and told him all about the money and clothes he had secretly
taken; so, no doubt, he had to disgorge some after all. Musàben laughed
very much, and said my imitation of the sultan's manner was so good he
must get two sheikhs to hear the Bibi mimic the Yafei sultan. The Yafei
messenger was much interested. I told the whole story, and how we had
gone round three trees and departed our own way, adding, 'The sultan
could see us from his own castle'; and he said, 'Yes, he did.' We told
him all his conduct was written down and sent yesterday to the Wali of
Aden, so now he might be sorry and frightened. We said we had been
treated well by all the other Yafei we had met, but the sultan wanted
to cheat both them and us. Indeed, it grieved us to hear the kind Yafei
spoken of with horror and detestation by the Fadhli, but no doubt they
have a different point of view to ours.

We went to another village called Abr Shebba, more under the mountains.
We were shown about very civilly, and taken to the door of a large dar,
and asked if we wished to go in. We did not know if we were wanted, so
made an indefinite answer. There was a difference of opinion, and at last
they said the Bibi should go in; so I crossed the court and entered the
house, and had hardly done so when my hand was seized, and I was dragged
by a man through black darkness upward and round and round. I stepped
high, and, as quickly as I could, rushed after him. At the third round I
saw a little light shining on the roughest possible shallow earthen
steps, and was pulled into a little room, where I was greeted with cries
of amazement by some women, and then continued my way unaided to the top
of the tower. The parapets were ornamented with gazelle horns. After some
time I wanted to go down, but I was on my way taken to a large room where
manners demanded I should settle down for coffee. Every one was very
kind, and for greater friendliness a naked baby four months old was
placed in my hands. When I wished to return it it was made to sit on my
knee. It soon kindly cried, and was, to my joy, removed. It had never in
its life been completely washed, though several large spots and trimmings
had been painted on its head. My husband joined me at last, and had
coffee too.

The first thing next morning, before our departure to Al Ma'a, another
letter came from the Yafei sultan about Al Husn; but the messenger was
told that once was enough to see that great thief (_harami_), and he
could take the letter back. It was fourteen miles to Al Ma'a, and took us
six hours. We passed up the Wadi Hassan, and saw Al Husn in the
distance. We did not go quite to the corner where the Wadi Hassan turns
east. It is considered too near the Yafei frontier to be safe, and the
Fadhli always used a narrow pass called Tarik al Kaha, going round Mount
Gherash. It gets narrower and steeper as it goes on zigzagging up slabs
of shale, with only room for one camel at a time. There are any amount of
ambush places, especially on the north side. The pass goes uphill, west
to east, and the steepest end is at the east. A spur runs out west on the
north side about 50 feet high, convenient to shoot over. The approaches
are quite open. It leads through Wadi Goddam to Wadi Hassan, and at the
entrance to Wadi Hassan, Fadhli Bedouin are for ever stationed to watch
for Yafei attacks on a tiny jutting hill. Three men of ours, sheikhs who
had come to meet us, galloped forward to explain to them who we were, and
ascertain that all was safe. They fired a gun over our heads. There were
a few baboons about. We saw several little heaps of stones, and were told
they marked spots where Fadhli had been shot by Yafei. A very large heap
is formed by those who pass the valley safely for good luck. We also
passed the tomb of a seyyid with four large smooth stones at the top
anointed with oil for the Ed. Before we reached Al Ma'a the river-bed
narrowed in from the other side, and along the raised bank at short
intervals were watch-towers of the Yafei. At Al Ma'a they are quite
close, about half a mile off at most. The country was still very arid and
barren, but the mountains very fine.

Al Ma'a is a wretched hamlet, which has seen very much better days. There
are high ruined castles, destroyed by the present sultan, as Al Ma'a and
its head-men were once in revolt. Now there are only three or four Arab
houses and a collection of reed huts. The valley is about two miles wide,
and there are four or five Yafei towers near. Our escort were very much
afraid. They said that the Yafei might shoot us, though a cannon would
be necessary, and lay the blame on the Fadhli, so they would by no means
let us camp anywhere but in a most disgustingly dusty place next the
village; and they kept sharp watch all night, talking much. The towers
protect the approach to the Wadi Theba, which here goes up or comes down
from Al Kara. The country round is in a perpetual state of ferment, like
Germany in the Middle Ages, every one on the look-out for attacks from
enemies.



CHAPTER XXXVI

AMONG THE FADHLI


We were up and off before the sun rose, our party being increased by
Sultan Salem, brother to the Fadhli sultan. He was twenty, and though not
dark in colour, has woolly hair. He and the soldiers and the wazir,
Abdullah bin Abdurrahman, rode at some distance to our left, between us
and the dangerous Yafei towers. The Goddam or Kadam range, which
separates the Wadi Yeramis from the Abyan, is a mass of arid peaks, none
reaching to more than 2,000 feet. A road leads from Al Ma'a across the
mountains to the sea at Asala.

We reached Karyat el Maksuf about ten, the valleys getting narrower and
more woody and grassy as we approached. There is an ancient fort on a
hill 650 feet above the valley, and about 1,300 above the sea, with a
glorious view over the Goddam range to the sea. There is another ruin of
a round fort on the left of the valley. We went on a mile to a delightful
place, where there were trees, water, and reeds, and beautiful views
through shady glades to the mountain peaks, and many cattle. We wished to
remain there, but were told it was better to get on to Naab, as there was
a little danger. We quite understood that danger was a bogey to prevent
us keeping them from a town, and we pointed out that the Yafei were not
likely to come down a light-coloured mountainside with only a few
tamarisks into a valley half a mile wide; so my husband firmly said we
would stay on the clean sand. Here we saw many baboons. The first ruin is
probably Persian or later Arabian. The second one, which is a mile
further up the Wadi Yeramis than the first, is evidently Himyaritic, and
protected the first town after Banna on the way to the Hadhramout. It is
circular, crowning a hill 300 feet high, and enclosing a space of 50
yards in diameter. On the north-east side it is protected by five square
towers, and has one gate to the south. It was the acropolis of a large
town, lying in all directions, but chiefly to the north-east. It has
evidently been a place of considerable strength, as the Wadi Yeramis is
only half a mile wide here. There is a regular stream of water in a
narrow channel, and the whole valley is green and fertile.

[Illustration: OLD NA'AB

(_By Theodore Bent_)]

Before we entered this narrow part of the valley, it was curious to see
below the peaked mountains a flat-topped effusion of basalt, called
_borum_, advanced forward.

We made a very early start next morning, and gradually got into a thick
low wood, but where the Wadi Yeramis widened out there were only
tamarisks. Our ascent was rapid, and after about an hour we turned due
east, this part being very bare-looking, though there were a good many
horrid acacias and also euphorbias with rounded trunks. We soon burst
upon a lovely plain all mapped out in fields and abrs. It is six miles to
Naab, and we took three hours. We passed through full two miles of this
fertility, with three or four villages--Souat, Nogat, Arrawa, and Old
Naab, with mosque, minar, and a fine old house all tumbling into ruins.
Wadi Yeramis is much opened out here, and the lower part is bounded by
the basalt in walls about 200 feet high, sometimes with mounds within
them again, and hillocks of the same formation as the high mountains.
This cultivated paradise is the property of Sultan Ahmet bin Salem,
brother to Sultan Saleh of the coast, and may be said to be the pick of
his whole dominions.

Arrawa, or New Naab, has twenty-four shops, and the sultan gets half a
real (or Maria Theresa dollar) on all merchandise-camels going up to the
Beled Yafei. There were many bales of merchandise in a sort of
Custom-house when we arrived at this great centre of inland traffic. We
encamped on the opposite side of the wadi from the town of Arrawa, which
is perched on a raised plateau of earth banks. When we halted, and had
climbed up, there was a line of people waiting to salute us. We and
Sultan Salem walked in front, our eleven men with guns walked behind,
singing a _merghazi_, or salutation song, of which I have a copy. We
halted again, and they fired ten salutes; then we advanced again, Sultan
Salem leading, when twenty of the local sultan's soldiers came forward
and kissed his hand and shook ours. Then there was a refreshment of five
or six cups of coffee and ginger, very weak, on the floor in a tower.
There was milk in the first cups, but it became exhausted. We never saw
the sultan all the time we were there, for they said he had a wound in
his leg.

The earthen cliffs are about 30 feet high, and we had to go a very
roundabout way to get up them by very narrow gullies. My husband went up
a hill, Yerad, just behind Naab, with an old Arab fort on it above the
Yeramis, which ends here; then begins Wadi Reban, with a clear course
north-east for three miles, then north, and then a long stretch east
again. There was a lovely view over the Yafei mountains on the north and
Goddam range on the south. A Bedou, Abdallah, who went with him told him
all the names. Though he could understand when the Bedouin talked to him,
he could not understand two talking together. Abdallah said he had been a
soldier in the sultan's service, but when my husband asked how long he
answered, 'Four, five, six years. I have never had it written down.' The
Bedou gave my husband some food called _kharou_, roast millet seeds put
in a mug with boiled milk, not at all bad.

The Sultan Salem bin Saleh's old abandoned castle had some nice
decoration about it. They left it because there were so many jinni
(_i.e._ ghosts) in it. Our informant had not seen them, but only heard of
them.

March the 12th my husband went up what he thought was the highest
mountain of the Goddam range, Minzoko, just behind Naab, and made it
2,000 feet, but considered when he got to the top that its neighbour
Haidenaab was 300 or 400 feet higher. The Tarik Minzoko goes between
them.

The sultan sent to our camp some bowls of food, soup, and a fowl cut up
and cooked in gravy, very rich with oil and onions. It would have been
good but for the stuffy, bitter taste of myrrh, which they like so much
to put in their food. He also sent us red cakes of millet bread.

A poet of Naab made a _merghazi_ on us during our stay, about our
treatment by the Yafei sultan: how he had demanded money of us and how he
had bidden us return to Aden. This was thought so excellent by everybody
that my husband was forced to take a copy of it from dictation and Sultan
Salem took a copy back to Shukra.

Our party was now increased by another 'prince,' Sultan Haidar, son of
the sultan of Naab, a person delightful to contemplate. He was got up in
Bedou style; his hair, fluffy and long, was tied back by a fillet and
stuck out in a bush behind. He had a curious countenance and very weak
eyes. He was wrapped in a couple of large blue cotton cloths with very
long fringes, half a yard at least. The cotton is plastered with indigo,
even beyond the dye, and when calendered, as the clothes are when new,
gleam purple and red. The richer you are the bluer you are, and Sultan
Haidar was very blue indeed. The curious thing about these blue people is
that, as the prominent parts of the face and body are the darkest, there
is an odd inside-out effect.

While in Naab we had our usual number of patients, but the one we were
most interested in was a woman who had a dreadfully sore foot. The foot
was very much swollen, and there was a sore on her instep and ankle in
which one could nearly put one's fist. This had never been washed, though
it had been going on for some years, and it had a dressing composed of
half a pound or so of dates stuffed into it. The poor creature lay on a
sort of bedstead or _charpai_ in a tidy little house consisting of one
room and lighted only by the door.

My husband set off at once half a mile back to camp to fetch the
necessary relief and I waited, sitting on a cloak that someone rolled up
on the floor, for there was not even a carpet to sit on. I was afraid of
various insects, but I could not rudely stand, and I should have had to
stand a good time as my husband had a mile to walk.

When he returned he syringed the sore with Condy's fluid and I cleaned it
with bits of wadding, and the woman with her nails in a way that made me
shudder, but she did not seem to hurt herself. Then we put on zinc
ointment. She drew her bedding from under her foot so that the water
streamed through the bed to the floor, which was earthen and below the
level of the door. There was a big puddle, of course, and I feared they
would have mud to contend with, but a woman soon came with a basketful of
dry sand, and by constantly brushing it up when wet into a palm-leaf
dustpan quickly cleaned up all the mess.

We went daily to attend to this foot and at last, if not much better, it
was improved by becoming thoroughly clean, foot, leg and all, and its
poor owner was cheered and looked much brighter herself.

We left her all the zinc ointment we had remaining to use first; a
milk-tinful of ointment, composed by me from pure lanoline, vaseline, and
zinc powder, to go on with, and some grease-proof paper to spread it on,
a lot of tabloids of permanganate of potash and directions to pour it
from a water vessel, very clean.

Before the family would undertake to receive these final instructions we
had to wait while some elderly persons were fetched, reputed wiseacres
evidently, and it was like teaching a class. The poor things, with such
earnest faces, were determined to make very sure they all thoroughly
understood what to do. An old man took each thing and handed it to the
husband, telling him how to use it, and we all consulted as to the best
niches in the roof in which to stow the things safely. They, at least,
longed for us to stay, and we felt sorry to go. One feels so helpless
face to face with such misery. I do hope she got well.

The first day we visited this house a great crowd came after us, but they
were turned out with sticks and fastened out in a very ingenious way.

Most of the houses are surrounded by a fence of prickly brushwood, in
which is an entrance 3 or 4 feet wide. Outside this stands, on its head,
with its root in the air, a bush. The root has a rope of twisted
palm-leaf attached to it. You enter and pull the rope. The bush stands on
its side then and blocks up the entrance; the rope is secured inside to a
bar which is fixed across the threshold and no one can pass this strange
and thorny gate. The bush is, of course, wider than the gateway.

Certainly Arabians are not all that one expect. I never can believe that
Mohammedans in general can consider dogs so very unclean, when they have
so many about them, and one tribe in the Soudan is called Kilab (dogs).
We used to hear also that they all shaved their heads, leaving one lock
only for Mohammed to draw them up into Heaven. Instead of this they do
all kinds of things to their hair, and the only people I ever saw with
one lock were the Yourouks in Asia Minor, and I think it was only a
fashion.

Some people think that all the rude efforts of aborigines and
uncultivated tribes are inspired by truer wisdom than are the results of
science and civilisation, and amongst other things, turbans are pointed
out to us as an instance of the good sense of people in hot climates, who
know how necessary it is to protect their heads from the sun. If so, why
do some cover their heads with turbans and some not? and why do those who
wear turbans take them off to cool their heads in the sun, and some
accidentally leave a bit of head exposed when they put the turban on
without ever finding it out? Some never cover the middle of the head at
all, but only wind the turban round. My theory, which may be wrong, is
that it is really worn for ornament, as a diadem in the original sense of
the word, just tied round the head as a mark of dignity.

Once or twice, our camp being on the far side of the valley from the
town, we managed to give the slip to the spearman who otherwise would
have accompanied us, and sneaked up a very narrow little wadi, where we
found a good many flowers and enjoyed this very much.

Wild beasts live in holes in these hills, and on the extreme top of the
mountain my husband ascended, was found a big goat that had been killed
in the wadi the night before. A little hairy animal called _ouabri_ was
brought to our camp.

[Illustration: FADHLI AT SHARIAH, WADI REBAN, WITH CURIOUS SANDAL]

When we left Naab we turned into the Wadi Reban to Shariah--three hours
and ten minutes, seven geographical miles, four north-east and three
north--and ascended 350 feet. Wadi Reban is a quarter of a mile wide near
Naab, but after two miles opens out; and there are gardens, and now and
again running water appears, and plenty of trees. At the fourth mile,
near a fort, we turned sharply to the north, past Jebel Riah, where Wadi
Riah comes in, and then reached a wide open space, where Wadi Silib joins
in. Jebel Shaas was beyond us, very high, and Wadi Ghiuda to the
right. This large open space is girt with mountains 500 to 5,000 feet
high, and is a great junction for the waters from Wadis Reban, Silib, and
Ghiuda. It was once exceedingly populous; there are here no less than
four old villages called Shariah; two considerable towns were perched on
the rocks, forming gates to the Wadi Silib, and two others at a great
elevation on the opposite side. The cause of the decrease in population
in Arabia must be the constant inter-tribal warfare and the gradual
filling up of the valleys with sand. Great banks of sand 20 feet high
line the river-beds, and wash away with the heavy rains, which contribute
to the silting up. This country must have been very fertile to have
supported the population, for the four towns must have been large. The
stone buildings alone would make any one of the four larger than most
towns in Arabia to-day, and there must have been the usual hut
population. We had a very pleasant camp among trees, and had a steep
scramble to the ruins.

An enthusiastic geologist would have enjoyed our next day's journey
immensely; we went through such a strange weird volcanic valley--not a
wadi, but a sheb, narrower and shallower. The road is called Tarik Sauda.
The strata of the rocks are heaved up at a very steep angle, and we had
to ride along smooth rocks, sometimes without any trace of a road at all
among the stones; sometimes we had to make very great windings amongst
heaps and hillocks of all sorts of different-coloured earths. Hardly a
green thing was to be seen, and altogether the whole place looked dreary
and desolate; but we were much interested in this day's journey among the
great scarred and seamed volcanic mountains. We ascended 650 feet--very
difficult indeed, travelling about seven miles in four hours; the
steepest part is called Akaba Sauda. We reached the headwater of the Wadi
Ghiuda at the top of the akaba, 2,000 feet from sea level. Naab is 1,000
feet above sea level; thence to Shariah is 350; and thence to Ghiuda,
650. We passed Dogoter and M'Haider, mere names. We encamped on a waste
of stones; no tent-pegs could be used, and it was windy and cold.

There are gazelle in this part and we had some for dinner.

Now was our time to send by Musaben to the camp of the sultans three very
gay blankets for them and Abdullah-bin-Abdurrahman. The long name of the
wazir's father had constantly to be on our lips on account of his
dignity, for they are like the Russians in that respect--common people's
fathers are not mentioned. The name was marvellously shortened to
B'd'rahman. We were thought to be in danger that night, and did not make
a very early start, as we had to load up water; and we two climbed down
350 feet into the Wadi Ghiuda, that I might take photographs. It was so
pretty, with pools of water and creepers hanging on the trees.

The sultans, meanwhile, sat up in their beds of leaves wrapped in their
blankets. How absurd it seems that two princes and a prime minister
should have to sleep out because two English choose to travel in their
country! Not a word of thanks did we ever get for those blankets, but
they were evidently much appreciated, for their recipients sat on their
camels wrapped over head and ears in them in the blazing sun.



CHAPTER XXXVII

FROM THE PLAIN OF MIS'HAL TO THE SEA


We joined the camels on the way, and after two hours of stones ascended
the very steep Akaba Beva. The view from the hills above--about 2,500
feet--is splendid, all the Yafei mountains and the Goddam range ending at
Haide Naab, and giving place to the higher mountains of Rekab and Ghiuda.
We descended, but not much, into the lovely Wadi Hadda, full of trees
smothered with a kind of vine with thick glossy indiarubber-like leaves;
then we went on straight up Akaba Hadda to the huge plain of Mis'hal,
full of villages, but ill-supplied with water. There are only some very
bad wells for the cattle, and they have to fetch drinking-water from
afar, from Ghenab and Lammas. We engaged a Bedou's camel to keep us
supplied, while resting our own. The plain is 2,700 feet above the sea.
The sheikh's name is Mohommod-bin-Nasr Nakai; this is the first time we
heard this pronunciation of the Prophet's name. He was determined to give
us a grand reception. Sheikh Seil had gone forward to announce us from
Ghiuda, and he came to meet us on his pony down both akabas--a fearful
journey.

[Illustration: VILLAGE OF MIS'HAL]

We always liked Sheikh Seil very much. He was the sheikh of Dirgheg. His
hair and his shaggy chest were not white, but a lovely sky-blue. In that
part of the world old people's hair is not dyed red with henna, as it is
in other parts of Arabia and Asia Minor and in Persia, so the effect of
the indigo can be seen.

From a distance we could see the preparations. There was a long line on
the sandy plain of between two and three hundred Bedouin, naked save for
a blue scarf round their waists, with dagger, powder-horn, &c., stuck in.
Some had guns, matchlocks, and some had spears. They mostly had their
long hair tied up and sticking out in a fuz behind, as funny a long line
of men as ever one saw.

We dismounted, nearly a quarter of a mile off, and all our party advanced
hand-in-hand, fourteen besides ourselves and Matthaios, we being the only
ones who did not know the words in which to chant our response to the
welcoming shout. This they interrupted occasionally by the high gurgling
sound they are so fond of, constantly coming out of the rank, one or
other, and firing a gun and retiring. The blue-bearded Sheikh Seil
galloped up and down in front of us, twirling his spear. We stopped 150
yards from them, and after much more firing the spearmen began to parade
before us in a serpentine way, two and two, backwards and forwards,
zigzag, and round and round the gunners, gradually getting nearer and
nearer to us, and dragging the gunners after them, with a red flag, a
seyyid, and their sheikh, Mohommod-bin-Nasr, between them. When they got
quite close they welcomed us, and we said 'Peace' to them. They passed us
so many times that we could see and notice them well. Some were very
tall; one who was very lame led his tiny little boy. The lancers danced
very prettily, having a man a little way in front of them executing wild
capers and throwing up his spear and catching it, singing all the while
songs of welcome. We could not understand more than some allusions, which
assured us they were composed for the occasion. After many gyrations they
retired to their former place, and then a herald came forward and made a
solemn address of welcome.

Then our turn came, and we sent forth a line of men with Sultan Haidar
in it to sing and let off guns. When the two lines met they shook hands
and kissed, the sultans and seyyids being kissed on the forehead and the
upper part of the leg. When they returned to us all our party joined
hands to go to our camp, now ready, a good distance off, all keeping step
in a kind of stilted, prancing way, singing. The spearmen in front danced
with all manner of light and graceful antics, and we were nearly stifled
with the dust; and the din was so appalling that we arrived quite dazed
at our tents after this welcome, which had lasted fully an hour. We were
the first white people who had been at Mis'hal. I tore my camera from its
case to take a photograph before the people left us, and it did better
than I could have expected in such a crowd, with no sun and so much
whirling dust. The town consists of a low square dar and a collection of
brushwood arbours, so slight that there is no pretension of concealing
anything that goes on inside. We were very thankful for a large pot of
coffee and ginger, sent by a sultan, and a fat lamb. The princes ventured
to leave us in charge of Abdullah-bin-Abdurrahman, and abode in the
tower. Sultan Haidar went home from here.

The tableland of Mis'hal is approached by three akabas: (1) Sauda, to
2,000 feet; (2) Beva, to 2,500 feet; (3) Hadda, to 2,750 feet. The Nakai
tribe live here, and are on friendly terms with their neighbours the
Fadhli--a sufficiently rare circumstance in this country. The Nakai chief
can put four hundred men in the field to help the Fadhli. The Markashi
were at war with them; they live in the Goddam range, and had been giving
the sultan trouble lately.

The road to Shukra most frequented is the Tarik el Arkob; eastward goes
the road to the Hadhramout, over the plain. Northward is the mountainous
country of the Aòdeli tribe, where they told us 'it is sometimes so cold
that the rain is hard and quite white, and the water like stone.' The
plain is ten or fifteen miles long, by about four or five miles at its
broadest. If irrigated it would yield enormously. The well is of great
depth, but the water very bad. My husband ascended a mountain about 3,000
feet high, but only 400 feet above the plain, with a most remarkable view
of the Aòdeli mountains, about twenty miles away, towering up to a great
height--far higher than the Yafei range, which Mr. Tate gives as 7,000
feet: these are probably 10,000 feet. The range must run for thirty or
forty miles from east to west, with few breaks and no peaks. We were not
well the last day at Mis'hal.

The Aòdeli women paint red lines under their eyes and down their noses
and round their foreheads with a kind of earth-dye which they call
_hisn_. Sometimes there is a round spot on the forehead and red triangles
on the cheeks. One woman had her face literally dyed scarlet all over.
She had a heavy necklace of beads and carried the sheep-skin coat, that
she could not wear in the hot plain, rolled up and laid on her head. It
is curious how dissatisfied dark people seem to be with the colour of
their skins, so often trying to lighten it; the fairness of the English
is in some places attributed to the soap they use.

We took advantage of the curiosity of the Aòdeli, who had just arrived
with a _kafila_, to make them stay in our camp and question them. The El
Khaur mountains look most fascinating to see only from a distance: they
are inhabited by lawless tribes owing allegiance to no man, and, having
no wholesome fear of the Wali of Aden before their eyes, would murder any
traveller who ventured among them; they are all Bedouin. The Aòdeli are a
very large tribe, and say they have 4,000 men for war; the Markashi can
put 500 or 600 in the field; and the Fadhli 2,000. Lauda, the chief town
of the Aòdeli, is much bigger than Shibahm; there are many Arabs. The
sultan is Mohamed-bin-Saleh. It is six hours from Mis'hal--thirty-four
miles--and is situated below the mountains. Above it is El Betha--Sultan
Saleh. Belad el Megheba, in the upper Yafei country, is under Sultan
Hakam Mohamed-bin-Ali. Sabad el Baida Resass (where there must be lead)
is not under the Turks; El Aòdeli live there. Neither is Sahib Lauda
under the Turks; the inhabitants are Augheri. This has a very soft
guttural--the Arabic _ghin_.

[Illustration: PLAIN OF MIS'HAL AND AÒDELI TRIBE]

Our next stage was Bir Lammas, about four miles off, mostly across the
monotonous plain. We passed four dars and villages. In time of war the
Fadhli sultan comes and occupies one of these dars. We met sheikhs
walking with little battle-axes on long poles--weapons in war, and in
peace used for chopping wood, at all times emblems of their rank. The
plain at length broke away, and we got into the narrow, and not very
deep, wooded Wadi el Mimin. It has very precipitous sides of basalt,
brown in colour, and making a very untidy attempt at being columnar. Bir
Lammas is a great, and I must add, very dirty, halting-place for caravans
going to Shukra, on the Tarik el Arkob, to El Kaur and the Wadi
Hadhramout.

We were two nights at Bir Lammas. I was too ill to go about at all, but I
could not resist going out to see some baboons which came to look at us
from the low cliffs. I am sure their leader must have been 4 feet long
without his tail.

My husband, who went for a climb, came to pretty close quarters with a
striped hyena.

We were encamped about 380 yards off from the well, and thought it a very
pretty place, with acacia-trees and creepers hanging in long trails and
making arbours of all of them. The women do all the work here, having to
fetch water from Bir Lammas and Ghenab for Mis'hal. The children, up to
fourteen years of age, tend the flocks, and the men stroll about or sit
in very warlike-looking conclaves, with guns and spears. Young children
have wooden jembias to accustom them to their use, and it is funny to see
tiny urchins of three or four hurling reeds at each other in imitation of
their elders with more deadly weapons. The Bedouin seem born in an
element of war; one we heard of had lasted fifteen years, but was happily
now stopped for a little while.

On a hill near the plain, about half a mile from Bir Lammas, there are
ruins of good style, probably of the Ashabir period of Hamdani.

We were to ride five hours to the next water after Bir Lammas. I felt it
would be an awful journey, as I was becoming more and more inert, but I
was able to jump on to my camel as usual. I begged my husband to tell me
as each hour passed, being quite determined never to ask too soon, but
every time I did ask it turned out to be only twenty minutes from the
last time.

We were soon out of Wadi Lammas, and went over stony plains with basalt
scattered over them, and no possible place to encamp, which I was keenly
on the look-out for. We went through a curious little pass, not high, but
a very narrow cutting just wide enough for us to ride through, for 300
yards, and then we had to wind down steeply at the other side over rocks.
I began to feel that I had no control over my legs and I hardly cared to
change my position for going up or down hill, and once when my camel
slipped down about 5 feet, I started to fall off headlong, but a Bedou
caught me by my leg and held me on. If I had fallen, as the path was very
narrow, the camel would surely have stepped on me. I should certainly
have cracked my skull first. Camels are not like horses--they do not
object to stepping on people.

A late sultan of Shukra fell from his camel and was trampled on, and
'though the Koran was read to him, and _herris_ or talismans were put on
him, his breath would not stay in him, but came out in half an hour.'
_Herrises_ are put on camels to make them strong; my husband's camel had
one, of which its master was very proud.

At last we came to the Wadi Samluf, and I begged that we might stop and
have a camel fetched for water. I had to be dragged from my camel, and
laid in the cinder-like sand till the tent was pitched, for, as my
malarial fever was constant, and I had no tertian intervals, I lost my
strength completely. Both my husband and I, and several others were very
ill, and we were not strong enough to get at our medicine chest. The
water was very bad. The Sultan Salem and other grandees camped at the
more dangerous open mouth of the valley.

The place where we pitched the tents was very pretty. There were trees
and very fantastic peaky rocks against the sky, and a great step about 3
feet high, which had once been a wave of basalt, black on the yellow
sand.

The camel-men used to spread their beds and light their fire on this sort
of stage by night, but they spent the day under the trees.

The last night we were in the Wadi Samluf there was a great noise--guns
firing, parties going out to reconnoitre, and shouting--but it turned out
that the new-comers who arrived at such an unseasonable hour were sent by
the sultan of Shukra to welcome and escort us.

From this spot I had to be carried to the sea, seventeen miles, on my
bed, which was strengthened with tent-pegs and slung on tent-poles. From
the little sultan downwards there was not one who did not help most
kindly. We went down gently 3,000 feet. I cannot describe this journey,
except that it was so very winding that I seemed to see the camels
meeting and passing me often. Fortunately the crossing of the low hot
Abyan was short.

I dreaded the journey, as I thought my bearers would not keep step, but
they did wonderfully well, though of course they had no path to walk in,
for two men and the bed were far too wide for any path there was. I saw
one man double up his legs and go over a boulder 3 feet or 4 feet high;
and they kept me very even too, and only dropped my head once; the
bearers changed as smoothly as if they were accustomed to it, and were
always saying something kind to me.

I was not pleased at first at being carried off very suddenly head first,
but it was certainly sweeter not having all those men in front of me, and
I rejoiced in a delicious sea-wind, which blew stronger and stronger, and
just seemed to keep me alive. I was very grateful to them, and took good
care never to ask if we had still far to go.

How glad I was to find myself in a rushing, roaring, rabble rout of men,
women, and children tearing along beside me!--not a thing I generally
like, but now it told me of the end of my weary journey. I was deposited
on my bed in a tower, tent-pegs and poles removed, and left with a
spearman on the doorstep to keep off intruders. The rest of our miserable
fever-stricken party came in half an hour later. The sultan of the Fadhli
came to our tent to see us--a pleasant-faced mustard-coloured man; and
also his wife, the daughter of an Aden sheikh, a very handsome woman.
They were very kind in sending milk, watermelons, and any little luxury
they could. The sultan lived in a fine brown building with a stunted
tower, a glorified Arab house, but nothing like those in the Hadhramout.
They send sharks' fins to China from here, as well as from Sokotra and
the Somali coast. This is probably Ptolemy's Agmanisphe Kome. It is just
the right distance from Arabia-Emporium, _i.e._ one day; so we found it.
There was the greatest difficulty in getting a boat, for none of the
ships wished to go to Aden, for fear of quarantine, as they would be
supposed to be coming from the plague-stricken Bombay. My husband
promised 100 rupees for every day, and the sultan compelled a captain
whose baggala was loaded for Mokalla to take us to Aden, by refusing to
give him his papers otherwise.

Our last moments at Shukra were spent lying on the sand with our heads on
a bag, and sheltered by a little bit of sacking on three sticks. The
sultan sat over us on a high chair, saying very polite things. We were
lifted on board our ship at three o'clock, and from the ship admired
Shukra, which looked very picturesque in the evening haze, with its
towers, its few trees, and its many-peaked Goddam mountains behind. We
reached Aden at three next afternoon. This is all I can write about this
journey. It would have been better told, but that I only am left to tell
it.



APPENDICES



I

_LIST OF PLANTS FROM DHOFAR MOUNTAINS, SOUTH-EAST ARABIA, COMMUNICATED BY
J. THEODORE BENT, ESQ., TO KEW GARDENS, MAY 1895._

209. Farsetia near longisiliqua, Dene.
 12. Farsetia? (too young)
193. Diplotaxis Harra, Boiss.
     Dipterygium glaucum, Dene. var.
163. Ochradenus baccatus, Delile
195. Capparideæ
132. Ionidium, n. sp.
186. Polygala near hohenackeriana, F.& M.
114. Polygala near javana, DC.
201. Tammarix mannifera, Ehrenb.
  5. Frankenia pulverulenta, L.
155. Cleome brachycarpa, Vahl
  1. Cleome quinquenervia, DC.
 65. Gynandropsis pentaphylla, DC.
 60. Capparis spinosa, L.
201. Cadaba (incomplete)
136. Cadaba longifolia, R.Br.
208. Polycarpea spicata, W. & A.
156. Gypsophila montana, Balf. fil.
173. Gossypium Stocksii, Mast.
 82. Pavonia
     Pavonia near glechomoefolia, Ehrenb.
 39. Abutilon graveolens, W. & A.
 61, 225. Abutilon indicum, Don.
232. Abutilon near indicum, Don.
127, 135. Abutilon fructicosum, G. & P.
212. Sida humilis, Willd.
151. Hibiscus vitifolius, L.
102. Hibiscus micranthus, L.
142. Hibiscus Trionum, L.
 66. Senra incana, Cav. wild cotton
 46. Malvaceæ, cfr. Senra
206. Cochorus antichorus, Raesch
     Cochorus trilocularis, L.
 80. Grewia asiatica, L.
181. Grewia populifolia, Vahl
 54. Boswellia Carteri, Birdwood
118. Acridocarpus orientalis, A. Juss.
194. Dodonæa viscosa, L.
 92. Vitis quadrangularis, Willd.
137. Balsamodendron Opobalsamum, Kunth
 93. Indeterminable
128. Moringa aptera, Gaertn.
  3, 79. Zizyphus Spina-Christi, Lam.
185. Celastrus senegalensis, Lam.
 30, 199. Ruta tuberculata, Forsk.
116. Tribulus alatus, Delile
  4. Tribulus terrestris, L.
     Zygophyllum album, L.
 17. Fagonia arabica, L.
     Fagonia Luntii, Baker
 68. Fagonia, n. sp. near Luntii and latifolia
157. Acacia Senegal, Willd.
205. Acacia verugera, Schweinf.
 69. Cassia, n. sp., near C. holosericea, Fres.
 22. Indigofera? (incomplete)
 16. Indigofera arabica, J. & S.
 36. Indigofera paucifolia, Delile
  9, 103. Indigofera argentea, L.
226. Psoralea corylifolia, L.
213. Argyrolobium roseum, J. & S.
170. Rhynchosia minima, DC.
 74. Sesbania punctata, Pers.
 13, 84. Tephrosia purpurea, Pers. (Muscat)
 47. Papilionaceæ, not determinable
146. Oldenlandia Schimperi, T. And.
122. Anogeissus
143. Woodfordia floribunda, Salisb.
 48. Pimpinella Tragium, Vill.
182? Cephalandra indica, Naud.
200. Cucurbitaceæ (flowers racemosa, male)
 11. Cucumis prophetarum, L. (Muscat)
222. Mollugo hirta, Thunb. (M. Glinus, A. Rich.)
 15, 175. Trianthema near T. pentandra, L.
158, 223. Eclipta erecta, L.
 25, 232, 220. Vernonia cinerea, Less.
 51, 3. Vernonia atriplicifolia, J. & S.
196. Conyza stricta, Willd.
 37, 9. ex parte Blumea Jacquemonti, Clarke
  9. ex parte Pluchea
  7. ex parte Pluchea
190. Gnaphalium luteo-album, L.
 40. Microrhynchus nudicaulis, Less.
228. Pulicaria arabica, Cass.
171. Pulicaria leucophylla, Baker
 81. Pulicaria sp.
192. Carthamus (Kentrophyllum)
188. Echinops spinosus, L.
 35. Centaurea near Calictrapa, L.
221. Lactuca (Ixeris)
235. Lactuca orientalis, Boiss.
233. Lactuca cretica, Desf.?
160, 234, 109. Lactuca? (too incomplete)
149. Solanum nigrum, L.
 23. Solanum melongena, L.
  6. Solanum xanthocarpum jacquinii, Dunal
 73, 150. Withania somnifera, Dunal (Muscat)
 16. Hyoscyamus muticus, L.? (Muscat)
140. Dæmia extensa, R.Br.
 71. Dæmia cordata, R.Br.
230. Pentatropsis cynanchoides, R.Br.
154. Adenium obesum, R. & S.
104. Azima tetracantha, Lam.
141. Salvadora persica, L.
162. Plumbago zeylanica, Linn.
 97. Vogelia indica, Gibs. (V. arabica, Boiss.)
199. Anagallis latifolia, L.
106. Jasminum officinale, L.
 13. Statice axillaris, Forsk.
115. Trichodesma
168. Hyoscyamus n. sp.
 15. Arnebia hispidissima, Forsk.
126. Cordia Rothii, R. & S.
  1. Heliotropium undulatum, Vahl
 86. Heliotropium ovalifolium, Forsk.
 12. Heliotropium drepanophyllum, Baker
121. Heliotropium zeylanicum, Lam.
 21. Lithospermum callosum, Vahl
125. Ipomæa blepharosepala, Hochst.
214. Ipomæa (indeterminable)
112. Ipomæa purpurea, Lam.
227. Ipomæa hederacea, Jacq.
144. Ipomæa obscura, Ker.
119. Ipomæa palmata, Forsk.
 61. Ipomæa biloba, Forsk. (Pescapræ)
     Ipomæa Batatas, Lam.
229. Ipomæa near Lindleyi, Choisy
147, 148. Ipomæa (Capitatæ) sp.
 63. Convolvulus arvensis, L.
 55. Convolvulus (Rectæ)
 64. Cressa cretica, Linn.
113. Hypoestes verticillaris, R.Br.
 83. Ruellia?
107. Ruellia patula, Jacq.
 50, 184. Ruellia spp.
110. Acanthus sp.
 87. Barleria acanthoides, Vahl
 96. Barleria Hochstetteri, nus
 95, 174. Barleria spp.
166. Neuracanthus?
100. Neuracanthus?
108. Ruttya (Haplanthera speciosa Hochst.)
224. Justicia debilis, Vahl
 91. Justicia simplex, D. Don.
145. Justicia sp.
 14; 72. Lippia nodiflora, Rich.
187. Striga.
 11. Striga orobanchoides, Benth.
237. Striga hirsuta, Benth.
167. Scrophularia?
  2. Linaria macilenta, Dene.
 76, 85. Lindenbergia fruticosa, Benth.
 78. Orobanche cernua, Loefl.
183. Lantana salviæfolia, Jacq.
111. Lindenbergia? (incomplete)
238. Herpestis Monnieria, H. B. K.
164. Lavandula setifera, T. And.
     Coleus aromaticus, Benth.?
152. Orthosiphon near Kirkii, Baker
 79. Orthosiphon tenuiflorus, Benth.
191. Ocimum menthæfolium, Hochst.
198. Teucrium (Stachyobotrys)?
169. Teucrium (Pohlium)
 10, 27. Digera arvensis, Forsk.
177, 178. Celosia trigyna, L.
 34. Achyranthes aspera, L.
 98. Pupalia lappacea, Moquin
  5. Boerhaavia ascendens, Willd.
 14. Boerhaavia elegans, Choisy
 24. Boerhaavia plumbaginea, Cav.
 89. Boerhaavia (leaves only)
  4. Cometes abyssinica, R.Br.
 67. Euphorbia n. sp. (cultivated at Kew from Hadhramout)
236. Euphorbia cuneata, Vahl?
 42. Euphorbia cactus, Ehrenb.
197. Euphorbia adenenis, Deflers
129. Euphorbia sp.
  2, 53. Euphorbia indica, Lam.
 37. Aristolochia bracteata, Retz.
 88. Forskohlea tenacissima, L.
  4. Ficus salicifolia, Vahl
 51, 70, 130. Chenopodium murale, L.
 38. Amarantus Blitum, L.
161. Polygonum glabrum, Willd.
  4. Suæda baccata, Forsk.?
 20, 215. Suæda fruticosa, Forsk.
 44. Salsola verrucosa, M. B.
 61. Halocnemum fruticosum, Moquin
     Cornulaca monacantha, Delile
101. Chrozophora obliqua, Vahl
139. Dalechampia scandens, L.
 57, 131. Acalypha indica, L.
231. Croton near C. sarcocarpus, Balf. fil.
 90. Euphorbia arabica, H. & S.
120. Jatropha spinosa, Vahl
     Jatropha villosa, Mull. Arg.
     Jatropha lobata, Mull. Arg.
165. Phyllanthus sp.
  9. Phyllanthus sp. (Muscat)
172. Phyllanthus, sp. rotundifolius, Linn.
 81. Phyllanthus (Muscat)
180, 105, 133. Phyllanthus
159, 210. Ceratopteris thalictroides, Brong.
 75. Cheilanthes farinosa, Kaulf.
 59. Adiantum caudatum, Linn.
 59. Nephrodium odoratum, Baker
 56. Pteris longifolia, Linn.
218. Chara hispida, Linn.
 71, 123. ex parte Commelyna Forskalie, Vahl
123. ex parte Commelyna albescens, Hassk.
203. ex parte Scirpus littoralis, Schrad
203. ex parte Juncellus laevigatus, C. B. Clarke
138. Eleocharis capitata, R.Br.
 41, 134. Cyperus rotundus, Linn.
 28. Cyperus conglomeratus, Rottb.
189. Asparagus racemosus, Willd.
217. Naias minor, All.
219. Naias major, All.
153. ex parte Pancratium tortuosum, Herb.
153. ex parte Hæmanthus arabicus, Roem.?
 94. Typha angustifolia, Linn.
 31. Juncus maritimus, Linn.
216. Potamogeton pectinatus, Linn.
211. Potamogeton natans, Linn.
     Panicum Crus-galli, Linn.
176. Cynodon Dactylon, L.
204. Phragmites communis, Trin.
 52. Latipes senegalensis, Kunth.
49. Aristida caloptila, Boiss.
45. Pennisetum cenchroides, Pers.
32, 202. Sporobolus spicatus, Vahl
29. Eleusine ægyptiaca, Pers.
26. Panicum geminatum, Forsk.
18. Æluropus litoralis, Parl. var. repens.
32. Heleochloa dura, Pers.
43. Apluda aristata, Linn.



II

_A LIST OF THE LAND AND FRESHWATER SHELLS COLLECTED IN SOKOTRA BY MR. AND
MRS. THEODORE BENT_

By Edgar A. Smith, F.Z.S., Assistant Keeper of Zoology, British Museum.


Previous to the researches of Mr. and Mrs. Bent, only forty-eight land
and freshwater molluscs had been recorded from Sokotra. In addition to
twenty-three of these species, they were fortunate in obtaining eleven
new forms, some of them very remarkable. These have been described and
figured by the writer in the 'Journal of Malacology,' vol. vi. pp. 33-38,
plate v., figs. 1-9. and in the 'Bulletin of the Liverpool Museum,' vol.
ii. No. 1, p. 12. The British Museum is much indebted to Mrs. Bent for
the donation of this valuable collection.


A. Terrestrial Species

 1.  Buliminus Passamaianus
 2.  Buliminus Balfouri
 3.  Buliminus mirabilis, n. sp.
 4.  Buliminus Bentii, n. sp.
 5.  Buliminus rotundus, n. sp.
 6.  Buliminus socotorensis
 7.  Buliminus semicastaneus
 8.  Buliminus Balfouri
 9.  Buliminus hadibuensis
10.  Buliminus fragilis
11.  Buliminus fusiformis
12.  Buliminus acutus, n. sp.
13.  Buliminus innocens, n. sp.
13_a._ Buliminus Theodoræ, n. sp.
14.  Stenogyra socotrana
15.  Stenogyra enodis
16.  Stenogyra insculpta, n. sp.
17.  Stenogyra decipiens, n. sp.
18.  Stenogyra Jessica
19.  Stenogyra adonensis
20.  Ennea cylindracea, n. sp.
21.  Succinea sp.
22.  Otopoma Balfouri
23.  Otopoma complanatum
24.  Otopoma clathratulum
25.  Otopoma conicum
26.  Tropidophora socotrana
27.  Lithidion marmorosum
28.  Lithidion Bentii, n. sp.
29.  Cyclotopsis radiolata
30.  Auricula socotrensis, n. sp.


B. Freshwater Species

31.  Melania tuberculata
32.  Planorbis sp.
33.  Planorbis sp.



III


We bought in Aden a fragment of alabasteroid limestone, said to have come
from the Hadhramout. It is broken on all sides. It is part of a
perpendicular series of sunken square fields, on each of which is
represented in flat relief a sitting or lying goat or chamois with
enormous horns. My fragment has two complete goats and parts of another
above as well as below. The goats look to the right, and there are some
cuttings which may have been part of an inscription on the surface of the
stone to the right of the column of goats. The squares are 4 inches high
by 3½ inches wide--10 centimetres by about 9.

[Illustration: FRAGMENT OF ALABASTEROID LIMESTONE]

That these goats must have some significance is clear from their likeness
to the following objects in the Hof Museum at Vienna, and figured in 'Süd
Arabische Alterthümer,' by Prof. Dr. D. H. Müller. The first is the lower
part of a slab, complete on three sides with a plain surface down the
middle, and columns of goats in squares just like that described above,
on either side, the goat facing inwards. In neither of these cases can
one know how many goats were originally represented.

The second is an architectural fragment composed of alabasteroid
limestone (yellowish in colour), 0.120 centimetres high, 0.202 long, 0.15
thick (so far as it remains).

[Illustration:]

It represents seven chamois (or goats) lying in a row. The heads are
coarsely formed, the eyes like knobs, and the bodies of the two animals
which are outside are indicated in profile. The original use of the
object is uncertain, but, in any case, it must have been a topmost
ornament, for the under-side, though regularly smoothed, is not polished
like the other surfaces, and therefore cannot have been meant to be seen.

The trough which we brought from Al Gran is of the same stone as the
former objects. It is 2 feet long by 11 inches wide and 4 inches high. It
has an inscription containing a dedication to the God Sayan or Seiyin
running all round it and finishing on one side of the top. In the top
there is a depression sloping towards a spout, which is now broken off
all but an inch. The depth of the depression is from one quarter to half
an inch, and the channel in the spout runs down to three-quarters of an
inch. Prof. Dr. D. H. Müller has kindly translated this inscription,
which appears to represent it as an altar. He thinks it must be for
frankincense, but I think it must have been for some liquid. The
inscription on the end opposite the spout is worn by marks of ropes being
dragged against it.

[Illustration: Sabæan Antiquities

1. The Seal of Yarsahal (front view).
2. Copper Seal with Sabota on it.
3. A Pottery Stamp (back view).
4. An Alabaster Lamp.
5. Alabaster Mace Head (?)
6. A Pottery Stamp (front view).
7. The Seal of Yarsahal (side view).
8. An Alabaster Lamp (bottom).
9. Fragment of a Himyaritic Inscription.
]

We bought an object of fine alabaster in Aden. It was said to come from
the Hadhramout. It seems like a seal or stamp and has a hollow round the
back, with spouts in either of the short sides. It had been used as a
lamp when we obtained it. There is a kind of handle or tube pierced
through to the front, probably for suspension.

In the same illustration are also part of an earthenware stamp and the
seal of _Yarsahal, the younger of Shibahm_, with its golden setting, and
a copper seal with _Sabota_ on it.



IV


[Illustration: Letters Distinguishable of an almost obliterated
inscription near Haidi village, near Kalenzia, Sokotra, copied by
Theodore Bent]

[Illustration: Crosses at _Dihaiterere_ on the hill Ditrerre, a spur
of Hamar, Sokotra. A perfect mass of crosses, the various shapes of
which, on the rocks, were copied by Theodore Bent]

[Illustration: Shape of a piece of wood from bone cave at Minèsha, Ras
Momi, Sokotra]

[Illustration: Sokotra camel marks, collected by Theodore Bent, 1897]



V


_SOKOTERI AND MAURI WORDS COLLECTED BY THEODORE BENT IN THE ISLAND OF
SOKOTRA, HE ASKING THE QUESTIONS IN ARABIC_

_The transliteration of the second, fourth, and fifth columns is
according to the system of the Royal Geographical Society._


-----------+----------------+----------------+----------------+------------
           |Dialect used in |                |                |
           |  South Arabia  |                |                |
  English  | but not in all |   Literary     |     Mahri      |  Sokoteri
           |   instances    |    Arabic      |                |
           | confined to it |                |                |
-----------+----------------+----------------+----------------+------------
Fort       |[H.]isn         |[H.]isn         |Hazn            |Husn
Spring -   |'Ain            |'Ain            |Mayou           |Neshodehin
  fountain |                |                |                |
Pickaxe    |Kismah          |   --           |Kasm            |Esher
Friend     |[H.]ab[=i]b     |[H.]ab[=i]b     |Mahabba sidi    |Mahabba habiba
Moon       |Kamar, Bedr     |Qamar, Badr     |Kubkob, Warra   |Kubkob, Ehri
Funeral    |Ghin[=a]zah     |Gan[=a]zah      |Ghinozet        |Ghineza
Game (prey)|[S:]aid         |[S.]aid         |Nehàmel melbetzà|Tahari
Give me    |A[t:]ini        |'A[t:]ini       |Zemi            |Endakhemu
Glass      |Kiz[=a]z        |Qaz[=a]z        |Logut           |Arashi
Glorious   |Gal[=i]l        |Gal[=i]l        |Anno            |Lubak
Hair       |Sha'r           |Sha'r           |Shuf            |Thlef
Half       |Ni[s.]f or Nus  |Ni[s.]f         |Nuss            |Nuss
Where      |Fein            |Fein            |Fein            |Fein
What       |Eish or Ei      |Esh             |Heshendi        |Inimdi
No matter  |Mal'eish        |   --           |Laktlela        |Bithiokhthi
Thank you  |Katter[kh=]airak|Ka[th=]ar[kh=]airak|Katerkhairak |Tarmunkete
Stand here |Stanni hinna    |   --           |Sarbuhun        |Takozha'a
Straight   |Dogri           |Du[gh=]r[=i]    |Hebkalazerom    |Torrnà
           |                |                |  (or Hepka)    |
Blessed    |Umb[=a]rrak     |Mub[=a]rak      |Umbarrak        |Umbarak
           |  _or_          |                |                |
           |Mub[=a]rrak     |                |                |
Stop       |Wakkaf          |Waqqaf          |Solop           |Tzullebaha
Hammer     |Sh[=a]koush,    |   --           |Efeie           |Taferra
           |  Hafir         |                |                |
Hang       |Shanak          |Shanaq          |Azab            |Khlanak
Hand       |Yad             |Yad             |Hed             |Ed
Anchorage  |Mérsa           |Mars[=a]        |Moïsi           |Moïsi
Headache   |Wagà er ras     |Waga'-ar-r[=a]s |Abkos erayhe    |Ellak ade
Often      |Ketiran-Tamèlli |Ka[th=][=i]ran  |Yehoda mekin    |Denafakin
Oil        |Zeit            |Zait            |Shigar          |Shigar
Onion      |Ba[s.]al        |   --           |Bosalet         |Basahal
Water      |Moya            |Miy[=a]h        |Hamou           |Diho Riho
Mountain   |Ghebel          |Gabal           |Ghebel          |Fèdehan
Milk       |Leben           |Laban           |Khlof           |Khlof
Stone      |[H.]agar        |[H.]agar        |Hoben           |Oben
Bread      |Khubs           |Khubz           |Khobs           |Eshere
Date       |Nakhl           |Na[kh=]l        |Nakelet         |Tamari
Man        |Ragul           |Rajal           |Reigh           |Eik
True       |Shagara         |[Sh=]ajar       |Shighered       |Sherehom
Far        |Baïd            |Ba'[=i]d        |Dahak           |Sherehek
Near       |Gar[=i]b        |Qar[=i]b        |Garib           |Sheiki
Well       |Bir             |Bir             |Bir             |Abahur
Sheep      |Ghanem          |Ghanam          |Kheoz           |Oz
Horse      |Khail           |Khail           |Ferehe          |Khail
Camel      |Gemel           |Gamal           |Berr[15]         |Berr
Sea        |Bahar           |Ba[h.]r         |Dorum           |Denhem
Sand       |Raml            |Raml            |Battar          |Shimeh
Garment    |Toub            |   --           |Beraka          |Farak berekà
Move       |Shihl           |   --           |Shilleil        |Tizàminha
Before     |Kabl            |Qabl            |Ksobba          |Goddam shei
Name       |Ism             |Ism             |Hemukom[=o]n    |Mormùkshom
Bed        |Ferash          |Fir[=a]sh       |Juderi          |Gudere
Sun rises  |Sherug esh shems|Shar[=u]g-ush-  |Skerkot Nayoum  |Sherkot Nashom
           |                |  shams         |                |
Light      |Kaf[=i]f        |[Kh=]afif       |Dernekfif       |Manghena
Gold       |Dahàb           |Tahab           |Deheb           |Deheb
Iron       |[H.]ad[=i]d     |[H.]ad[=i]d     |Hadid           |Hadìd
Silver     |Fadda           |Fa[d.][d.]a[d.] |Derehem         |Derahin
Cloth      |Kamash          |Qum[=a]sh       |Dizhid          |Shöd'hem
Cloud      |Sahal           |Sa[h.][=a]bah?  |Afoùr           |Hehour
Judge      |Kadi            |Q[=a]d[=i]      |Kadi            |Kaldi
Take       |Emsak or Emsik  |Ims[=a]k        |Elkof           |Telö
Satan      |Shai[t:][=a]n   |Shai[t:]an      |Shaitan         |Markush
Difficult  |Sabi            |Sabi'           |Sabi            |Marhere
Evening    |Asher           |'Ash[=a]        |Izhhè           |Teloimö
   meal    |                |                |                |
Midday     |Dohr            |[Dh=]uhr        |Tohr            |Vohr
Place      |Makan           |Mak[=a]m        |Mèkon           |D'half
Face       |Wagh            |Wajh            |Weggi           |Fenè
Faith      |Din             |D[=i]n          |D[=i]n          |Izal[=i]hen
Family     |Ahl             |Ahl             |Oher            |Dehihkag'-haiho
Fat        |Semen           |Samn            |Mahar           |Hammi
Feast      |Eid             |'[=I]d          |Eid             |Ayed
Fever      |Humma           |[H.]umm[=a]     |Dighilo         |Ghiohör
Little     |Khalìl          |[Kh=]al[=i]l    |Ihnil (or Eint) |Herèrhen, or
           |                |                |                |  (Ererihen)
--         |Melane          |--              |Millè           |Millì
Finger     |A[s.]bu'        |U[s.]bu',       |Asba            |Esba asali
           |  a[s.]abe'     |  A[s.]ba       |                |
Flea       |Barghùt         |Bargauth        |Gheròse         |Gheroz
Fool       |Khailak         |A[h.]maq        |Khailak         |Diddo
Saddle     |Sarga           |Sarga           |Zmel            |Zmel
Dog        |Kelb            |Kalb            |Kelb            |Not known; no
           |                |                |                |  word
Sheep      |Khar[=u]fa      |--              |Tiwit           |Te'eh
Salt       |Mel[h.]         |Mal[h.]         |Milhoda         |Milh
Knife      |Sikk[=i]n       |Sikk[=i]n       |Ais             |Sari
Fish       |Semek           |Samak           |Seit            |Zode
It is      |L[=a]zim        |L[=a]zim        |Lazerom         |Na'ah
  necessary|                |                |                |
 --you must|                |                |                |
Enough     |Bas             |Bas             |Bas             |Ta'ad
One        |W[=a][h.]ad     |W[=a][h.]ad     |Tat             |Tat
Two        |Itnein          |I[th=]na[=i]n   |Tro             |Tra
Three      |Tal[=a]ta       |[Th=]al[=a][th=]a|Saratit        |Talele
Four       |Arba'           |Arba'           |Arbote          |Arbaa
Five       |[Kh=]amsa       |[Kh=]amsa       |Khams           |Khamse
Six        |Sitta           |Sitta           |Itìt            |Sitta
Seven      |Saba'           |Saba'           |Ibeìt           |Saba
Eight      |Tamania         |[Th=]am[=a]nia  |Timminè         |Tamania
Nine       |Tissa'          |Tisa'           |Zeit            |Testa
Ten        |'Ashera         |'Ashara         |Aserait         |Ashera
Twenty     |'Ishrin         |'Ishr[=i]n      |Asherin         |Ishrin
One hundred|Mia             |Miat            |Mieit           |Mia
Work       |Shugh           |Shaghl          |Fìsa            |Mahalèh
Wound, sore|Gurrèh          |Gar[=u]h        |Sob             |Gourèh
Pain       |Waggà           |Waga'           |Debkhos         |Erlakh
Medicine   |Dàwa            |Daw[=a]         |Dewar           |Tofin-i-dewar
Sun        |Shems           |Shams           |Hayoum          |Shehem
Ready      |[T:]a[=i]r      |[T:]a[=i]r      |Akabìt          |Souèdon
Butter     |Zùbda           |--              |Makozo          |Gotomìne
I          |Àna             |--              |Hèmukomòn       |Evumuksham
You        |Enta            |Antam           |Minesmuk        |Minmuksham
He         |H[=u]           |H[=u]           |Hou             |--
Rope       |[H.]abl         |[H.]abl         |Keit            |Enkhar
Son, boy   |Welèd           |Walad           |Aghi[=en]       |Mukshin
Daughter   |Bint            |Bint            |Aghinot         |Fèrhin
Woman      |Horma           |[H.]urma        |Haremet         |Azhè
Wood       |Hattab          |[H.]a[t.]ab     |Hatab           |Tirob
Strong     |Kawi            |Qav[=i]         |Musireh         |Musirak
War        |Harb            |[H.]arb         |Harb shehen     |Harb shehen
More       |Kamàn           |Kam-min Lawa    |Ashishfisa,     |Ta'alt'hefisa,
           |                |                |  Fileh'niciteh,|  Feleh'ntodèh
           |                |                |  Riàh          |  D[=a]
Price      |Tamàn           |[Th=]aman       |Soueh           |Tetenà
Meat       |La[h.]m         |La[h.]m         |Tiwë            |Tà
Leg        |Rigl            |Rijl            |Serein          |Thlaub
Blood      |Dam             |Dam             |Douri           |Durr
Allah      |Allah           |Allah           |Allah           |Allah
Deaf       |Toursh          |[T.]ursh        |Yehomallah      |Doufé
Houses     |Bouyo[=u]t      |Buy[=u]t        |Bouyout         |Keke
Seaweed,   |[H.]ash[=i]sh   |Ha[sh=][=i][sh=]|Mareh           |Röd
  grass    |                |                |                |
Servant    |'Abd            |'Abd            |Hoyur           |Embaha
Slave      |Gulam           |[Gh=]ulam       |Gulma           |B'thlekum
Tall, long |[T:]aw[=i]l     |[T:]aw[=i]l     |Taw[=i]l        |Ep
  (Plural) |  Atwàl         |  A[t:]w[=a]l   |Tawil           |Dihom
Stars      |Nagoùm          |Nag[=u]m        |Negoun          |Kabkap
Lesson     |Dars            |Dars            |Kerì            |Mukerè
Truth      |Hak             |[H.]aqq         |Hak             |Hak
Without    |Bidùn hak       |Bid[=u]n haqq   |Hammuk hak      |Ekmunk hak
  truth    |                |                |                |
In the     |fi'l beit       |fi'l bait       |be beit         |Tofok, diè min
  house    |                |                |                |  kar
In the     |fi'l leil       |fi'l lail       |be leil         |billeilhe
  night    |                |                |                |
In the road|fi'l tar[=i]k   |fi'l tar[=i]q   |be haron        |orun
Heal       |Sh[=a]f[=i]     |Sh[=a]f[=i]     |Bekhairgh       |Bekhaeraghe
Heart      |Kalb            |Qalb            |Kalb            |Elbi
Heaven     |Sam[=a]         |Sam[=a]         |Simma           |Simma
Heavy      |Takil           |T[h.]aqil       |Takil           |Eddak
Heel       |Akab            |'Aq[=i]b        |Akonosh         |Konosh
Pig        |Khansir         |--              |Khansir         |Khansir
Horn       |Karn            |Qurn            |Kon             |Kon
Ready      |[H.]adir        |[H.]a[dh=]ir    |Hader           |Hader
Imperfect  |N[=a]kis        |N[=a]qis        |Nakuss          |Biziankazank
           |                |                |                |  bidinya
Impossible |[Gh=]air mumkin |[Gh=]air mumkin |Ghair numkin    |Ghair numkin
Possible   |Yimkin          |Imk[=a]n        |Yumkin          |Yumkin
Indigo     |N[=i]l [n.]edal |N[=i]l          |Nihl            |Nil
Infant     |[T:]ifl         |[T:]ifl,        |Atfal           |Atfal
           |  (i[t:]f[=a]l  |  I[t:]fâl      |                |
           |  pl.)          |                |                |
Infidel    |K[=a]fir        |--              |Koffer          |Keffer
Ink        |Hibr            |Hibr            |Indud           |Medad
Intellect  |Akl             |'Aql            |Okul            |Akal
Interpreter|Tergumàn        |Targum[=a]n     |Makaddam        |Dehane makaddam
Island     |Gez[=i]ra       |Gaz[=i]rah      |Gezeira         |Gezeira
Jew        |Zaho[=u]di      |Yah[=u]d[=i]    |Yahoude         |Yahoude
Kick       |Rafos           |--              |Erkella         |Taràkad
Intelligent|Fah[=i]hm       |Fah[=i]m        |Fehemdi         |Fehem
Kill       |Katal           |Qatal           |Ilbedda         |Talata
Kind       |La[t:][=i]f     |La[t:][=i]f     |Altehf          |Altuiphin
Arms       |Sillah          |Sil[=a][h.]     |Shki            |Shko
Soldier    |'Askar          |'Askar          |Ask[e:]r        |Asker
King       |Malik           |Malik           |Moli            |D'hemmel
Arrive     |Wa[s.]sala      |Wa[s.]ala       |Wassel          |Gidda
Matting-bag|Zamb[=i]l       |--              |Z[a.][m.]bil    |Zambil
Wise       |'Alamah         |'[=A]lim        |Alamah dimondi  |Dimondish alemah
Cut        |Ightsal         |--              |Hanmel kosorn   |Nerdober
Journey    |Safar           |Safar           |Nehassol        |Insofar
Tired      |Ta'b, Ta'ban    |Ta'b-Ta'b[=a]n  |Ketlak          |Resak
Tribe      |Kab[=i]la       |Qab[=i]lah      |Kabila          |Kabela
Now        |Dilwakhti       |[Dh=]i'l waqti  |Leasar          |Leasar
Learn      |Ta'alem         |--              |Mollum          |Ma'alem
Tent       |[Kh=][=i]mah,   |[Kh=][=i]mah    |Arzhlìt         |Stirìht
           |  Kheim         |                |                |
Sword      |Seif            |Saif            |Keit            |Keòttaha
Summer     |Shitta          |--              |Kazem           |Kébhor
Right, South|Yemèn           |Yam[=i]n        |Gez[)e]mhine    |Tiozeminhah
Left, North|Shemàl          |Sham[=a]l       |Shem[=i]n       |Shemin
East       |Shark           |Sharq           |Shurakot haioum |Shom
West       |Garbis          |[Gh=]arb        |Ghizote         |Attabon
Late       |Mogreb          |Mu[gh=]rib      |Mogareb         |Mogareb
  evening  |                |                |                |
How are you|Kheifalak       |--              |Besherhelt      |Alghiorg
To walk    |Masha           |--              |Mehèklazerom    |Entòholnà
Yes        |Ewa             |Ayyaw[=a]       |Herrì           |Herrì
No         |L[=a]           |L[=a]           |--              |Deh
Key        |Mifta           |Mift[=a]h       |Mìftàh          |Miftàh
To tie     |Urbut           |Yarbu[t:]       |Urbut           |--
Come here  |Ta'al hinna     |--              |Assab           |Tazùm
Give me    |Gibli, atini    |--              |Inkalbo, Atini  |Tadidbo
           |                |                |                |  Habondishoelae
Take hold  |Khod            |--              |Shelùs          |Tza
Kneel down |Baraka          |Baraka          |Hebrekaber      |Terburuk
  (to a    |                |                |                |
  camel)   |                |                |                |
To-morrow  |Bukara          |Bukara          |Bukarèd,        |Elli
           |                |                |  Bukerade      |
Afterwards |Badèn           |Ba'den          |M'gori          |Enzat
Before     |Goddam          |Qudd[=a]m       |Fenouni         |Adminlefeni
Inside     |Da[kh=]l        |D[=a][kh=]il    |Keb             |Dakhl or Turko
Outside    |Barra           |Barr[=a]n       |Khareg or       |Sheraga or
           |                |                |  Barr[=a]n     |  Tcherogehte
Door       |B[=a]b          |B[=a]b          |Bob             |Terr
Year       |Sanna           |Sannah          |Senate          |Ehno
Week       |Shahr           |Shahr           |Warrakh         |Tadkleher
Drunk      |Sherab          |Sharib          |Hamontikè       |Nerou
Road       |Tarìk           |[T:]ar[=i]q     |Haurim          |Haurim
Dead       |Mut             |Mat             |Maut            |Zami
To-day     |El yom          |Al Yaum         |Imor            |Hair
Day after  |B'ad Bukra      |Ba'd bakarah    |Bad gehìn       |Dishinzomen
 to-morrow |                |                |                |
Yesterday  |Ems             |Ams             |Imshi           |Imshi
Mosque     |Mesjid          |Masjid          |Masjid          |Masjid
Priest     |Mollah          |Mull[=a]        |Ma'alim         |Ma'alim
Friday     |Gumma           |Gama'           |Ghimata         |Gumma
Cross      |Salìb           |M[=i]s[=a]n     |Mison           |Mison
Happy      |Mahs[)o]ud      |Ma[h.]sûd       |Laef            |Halut
Together   |Saw[=a]         |Saw[=a]         |Nehanakafakhari |Entafakhari
Buy        |Ishteri         |Ishtar[=a.]     |Hamilthtòr      |Intergyer
Above      |Fok             |Fauq            |Hàkala          |Minali
Below      |Ta[kh=]t        |Ta[h.]t         |Hamenkerat      |Inkodediemen
Everything |Kul shei        |Kull shai       |Haltikalla      |--
Evening    |Asser           |'A[s.]ar        |--              |Dinofari
Wild beast |Wa[h.]sh        |Wa[h.]sh        |Deshìt          |Shodhìhm
How much   |Kam             |Kam             |B'kam           |Binemshuon
Dom-tree   |Nebek           |Naba'           |Dom             |Firehem
Good       |Tayib           |[T:]aiyab       |Ghet            |Dìa
Bad        |Battal          |Ba[t:]l         |Khiob           |Dià
Nice       |Zein            |Zain            |Ghit            |Shikèro
Great      |Kebir           |Kab[=i]r        |Aghus           |Shibìb
Greatest   |Akbar           |Akbar           |Aghusa          |Shibìhb
White      |Abaid           |Abya[d.]        |Lebanèd         |Lebìne
Black      |Asoud           |Aswad           |Hawa            |Khalak Ha-he
Old        |Kad[=i]m        |Qad[=i]m        |Dewìl           |Tahan
New        |Ghedid          |Gad[=i]d        |Hidin           |Gedìd
Cold       |Bard            |Bard            |Gazùn           |Habahur
Hot       {|Har             |[H.]arr         |Hehen           |Shehem
      or  {|Hami            |[H.]umm[=a.]    |Hanan Hark      |Dio denarher
Red        |Ahmar           |A[h.]mar        |Ufer            |Afer
Green      |Akdar           |Akdar           |--              |--
Yellow     |Asfar           |A[s.]far        |Hat'hor         |Shedhor
Much       |Ghali           |[Gh=]al[=i]     |Zeboun          |Ghali
Cheap      |Rak[=i]s        |--              |Rakis           |Rakis
Rich       |Ghani           |[Gh=]an[=i]     |Togìr           |Tag
Poor       |Fakir           |Faq[=i]r        |Faker           |Faker
Wretched   |Meskin          |Misk[=i]n       |Meskin          |Meskin
Father     |Ab[=u]          |Ab[=u]          |Hebe            |Bebe
Mother     |Om              |Umm             |Hamme           |Beo
Eat        |Akul            |Akal            |Hamkout         |Gebenganeo
Fear       |[Kh=][=a]f      |--              |Linkhaf         |Sherboton
Angry      |Nehm            |--              |Shuhkof         |Daime
Sick       |Ayyan           |--              |Bithell         |Giore
Broken,    |Maks[=u]r       |Maks[=u]r       |Tiber           |Sheteghen
  Injured  |                |                |                |
News       |Kabar           |[Kh=]abar       |Kobber          |Kabr
Early      |Bèdri, Subba    |Sab[=a]h        |Ksobba          |Kasaibeya
Peace      |Salaan          |Sal[=a]m        |Subbaellah      |Alburr
Dirty      |Wasakh          |Wasa[kh=]       |Mithkal         |Haidek
Clean      |Nod[=i]f        |Na[dhdh=]af     |Ghihdi          |Nodeif
Boat       |Merkab          |Markab          |Merkab          |Merkab
Ride       |Yerkab          |Yarkab          |Hamle rekhob    |Nirerkab
Rain       |Matar           |Ma[t.]ar        |Lehamed         |Messer
Crooked    |Awwaz           |'Awwaj          |Nehanellom      |Netògher
Finished   |Khalas          |[Kh=]ala[s.]    |Burneghessen    |Tettin
Thus       |Kidda           |Ka[d.][=a]      |--              |--
Go       { |Yemshi          |Yamsh[=i]       |Suè             |Toïke
         { |Rua             |R[=a][h.]       |Ghen[=i]        |Toher
Prison     |Habs            |[H.]abs         |Habs            |Habs
Present    |Bakhshis        |Bakh[sh=][=i][sh=]|Bakhshesh     |Bakhshish
Prophet    |Nebi            |Nab[=i]         |Nebe            |Nebe
Open       |Maft[=u]h       |Maft[=u][h.]       |Bob fitàh       |Ghinatten
Orphan     |Yat[=i]m        |Yat[=i]m        |Aytìm           |Esmediafore
Bucket     |Dalu            |Dal[=u]         |Dolu            |M'l'hia
To paint   |Lauwan, Laun    |Lawwan          |Laun            |Sourah
Palm       |Saóuf nakhl     |--              |Safe            |Hes el timeri
  branches |                |                |                |
Parents    |Walidein        |W[=a]lidain     |Hebe wahami     |Bebe wavubeyah
Fowl       |Dakika          |--              |Karoun          |Ent
Liver      |Kabid           |Kabid           |Kabid           |Kabid
Thirsty    |A[t:]chan       |'A[t:]sh[=a]n   |Hailuk          |Toimek
Hungry     |Goàn            |G[=i]'[=a]n     |Göak            |Sottak
Praise     |[H.]amd         |[H.]amd         |Hamd            |Hamd
Slow       |Ba'ati          |--              |Aden abatayah   |Aden nau
Christian  |Nàzari          |Na[s.][=a]r[=i] |Nazari          |Nazari
Immediately|Hàlan           |[H.][=a]lan     |Lazerom         |Na'ah
Myrrh gum  |Lobàn           |Lub[=a]n        |Tlahas          |Tlahas
Myrrh tree |Leben           |--              |Mogherate       |Emiïdu
Knee       |Rukbah          |--              |Bark            |Berk
Lame       |A'rag           |'Arag           |Tibere          |Gushel
To laugh   |[D.]a[h.]ik     |Qa[h.]qa[h.]    |Istahalk        |N'dlahak
Laughter   |[D.]i[h.]k      |[D.]i[h.]k      |Ethelhalk       |Entlahak
Leg        |Sa[k.]          |S[=a]q          |Tharem          |Ihlop
Leper      |Abra[s.]        |Ibr[=a][s.]     |B'hohg          |Behehok
Lift       |Urfa            |--              |Urfah           |Dza(minha)
Like (same |Mitl-shibh      |Mi[th=]l        |Izdah           |Toàha
  as)      |                |                |                |
Lion       |As[=a]d; plural,|Asad            |Gailar          |(No word, because
           |  uso[)u]d      |                |                |  they say
           |                |                |                |  'we none in
           |                |                |                |  Sokotra')
To dwell   |Sakan           |Sakan           |Nehamel         |N'zohn henna
           |                |                |  Entowelboum   |
Lungs      |Riah            |Ri, ah          |Gil't'hori      |Geha
Mad        |Magn[=u]n       |Magn[=u]n       |Haiw[=a]l       |Mankaina
Mankind    |Beni Adam       |Ban[=i] [=A]dam |Beni Adam       |Makuloka (cf.
           |                |                |                |  Makalaka,
           |                |                |                |  South Africa)
Magic      |Sihr            |Si[h.]r         |Saghir          |Sahire
Naked      |'Aryán          |'Ury[=a]n       |Harket el binad |Esoufai libineben
Napkin     |Fòu[t:]a        |Fau[t:]h        |Foutah          |Fotere
           |  _or_     |                |                |
           |  F[=u][t:]ah   |                |                |
Neck       |'Unk-Ra[k.]abah |'Unq Raqabah    |Ghoti           |Rokoba
Needle     |Ibrah; plural,  |Ibrah           |Makaite         |Makite
           |  ubàr          |                |                |
Noble      |Sharìf          |[Sh=]arìf       |Sharif          |Sharìf
Noise      |[S.]aut         |[S.]aut         |Aroumekin       |Metdelhin
           |                |                |  _or_     |  _or_
           |                |                |  Saut          |  Ta'ad'hin
None       |Lâ a[h.]ad      |L[=a] a[h.]ad   |Hadelabun       |Balheh
Nose       |Anf, manakhìr,  |Anf             |Nakarinya       |Nahare
           |  khoshim       |                |                |
Hurry      |Ishtagil        |--              |Deghodum        |Denofer
A quarter  |Rub'            |Rub'            |Erbeit          |Töman
Bone       |'Azm            |'Azm            |Athail          |Sahilla
Feather    |R[=i]shah       |--              |Thluf           |Nefereri
Quilt      |Lahàf           |Li[h.][=a]f     |Guderi          |Miskal
Lamb       |Arnab _or_ |--              |Arnab           |(They have no
           |  Erneb         |                |                |  word)
Rat        |Gard'hom        |Gur[dh=]um      |Gihreit         |Zadahin
Ruined     |Kharàb          |[Kh=]ar[=a]b    |Khaiob          |Kharbeni
Purse, bag,|Gaib _or_  |Gaib, jaib      |Kies            |Kies
  pocket   |  Kies          |                |                |
Idle       |Kesl[=a]n       |Kasl[=a]n       |Fohsel          |Aghizdè
Do your    |Amel Shuglak    |'Aml shu[gh=]lak|Amal hagil de   |Tenofar dishberi
  work,    |                |                |  felene        |
       _or_|                |                |                |
  Mind your|                |                |                |
  own      |                |                |                |
  business |                |                |                |
Book       |Kit[=a]b        |Kit[=a]b        |Nektib          |Inkotub
Writing    |Mekt[=u]b       |Makt[=u]b       |Berklub         |Berklub
Honey      |'Asal           |'Asal           |Assal           |Assal
Behind     |Wàra            |War[=a]         |Manghirek       |Minherrin
Bitter     |Murr            |Murra           |Hermet          |Ajhi
Wielding   |Arouz           |'Urs            |Arouz           |Arouz
But        |L[=a]kin        |L[=a]kin        |Lakin           |Yakaïta
Caravan    |Kàfila          |Q[=a]filah      |Shikfilèla      |Beghishekfil
Load       |Huml            |[H.]aml         |Hamul           |Hamul
Begin      |Ibtida          |'Ibtid[=a]      |Bedihn          |Bedehn
Kitchen    |M[=u][t:]b[=u]kh|Ma[t:]ba[kh=]   |Mutabukh        |Mulbakt
Bird       |Dik             |--              |Dik             |Dik
Dig        |Hafar           |--              |Nehamel hafere  |Nehafar
Rest       |Rahah           |--              |Rahah           |Tareharhinnaha
Doctor     |[H.]akim        |[H.]ak[=i]m     |--              |--
Cup        |Finj[=a]n       |Finj[=a]n       |Finjan          |Finjan
           |  K[=u]bayet    |                |  K[=u]bàyet    |  K[=u]bàyet
Skin       |Gild            |Gild, jild      |Geld            |Geld
Eggs       |Bei[d:], Degade |Bai[d:]         |Degaghe         |Degaghe
Never      |Abadan          |--              |Abadàn          |Abadàn
Stream     |Ghail           |--              |Dihib           |Thlab
Paper      |Warak           |Waraq           |Werkart         |Warraka
Sit        |Ghisel Gitez    |--              |Towel           |Tsalleh
Dry        |Nashif          |Na[sh=][sh=]af  |Dehar           |Terahat
Read       |Karà            |Qar[=a]         |Ktub            |Kteb
Scarce     |N[=a]dir        |N[=a]dir        |Kalèd           |Khlahrohb
Roast      |Shawa           |Shawa           |Hamtiwi         |Tè
Rob        |Sarak           |Saraq           |Hirrik          |Seirek
Room       |O[d.]a          |O[d.]ah         |Hod             |Hod
Round      |[H.]aul         |[H.]aul         |Hagìr           |Haghia
Root       |A[s.]l          |A[s.]l          |Asali           |Asl
Run        |Raka[d.]        |Raka[d.]        |Houeh           |Tshà
Ripe       |Mustawi         |Mustawi         |Mushtawi        |Mushlawi
Seal       |[Kh=]at[=i]m    |[Kh=]atam       |Khatini         |Houleh
Riches     |Mal             |--              |Molshè          |Inoshinia
Reap       |[H.]a[s.]ad     |[H.]a[s.]ad     |Hazad           |Hazd
Beat       |[D:]araba       |[D:]araba       |L'bedi          |Toghì
Nut        |Brandouk        |--              |Brandouk        |Brandouk
Obey       |A[t:]a          |A[t:]a'         |Atawa           |Naddub
Order      |Amr             |Amr             |Amr             |Amar
Old woman  |'Agouz          |'Ag[=u]zah      |Agouz           |Khlibip
Ornament   |Zena            |Z[=i]nat        |Git             |Tchera
Owl        |Boum            |B[=u]m          |Tlarhitin       |Tlarhiten
Castle     |Ka[s.]r         |Qasr            |[H.]az[a.]r ed  |H[)a]zar
       _or_|                |                |  Dowlet        |  S[=a]dahan
  palace   |                |                |                |
Palm of the|Kaf-fusa        |Kaff            |Dehòte          |Dehò
  hand     |                |                |                |
Pardon     |[Gh=]afar       |[Gh=]afar       |Netur min el    |Beligiter min
           |                |                |  habs          |  el habs
A little   |Shwaya          |Shuwaiyah       |Musted          |Einoshedèhe
Where is   |Fein el Beled   |Fi ain al balad |Hoddehabed del  |Hodde belad
  the town |                |                |  Felani        |
People     |N[=a]s          |N[=a]s          |Haboa           |Hohafon
Head       |R[=a]s          |R[=a]s          |Ras             |Ras
Blood      |Dam             |--              |--              |Musailo
Disordered |Dam Kholeil     |--              |Douri           |Durr
  blood    |                |                |                |
Pen        |Kalam           |Qalam           |Kalam           |Kalam
Anger      |[Gh=]adab       |[Gh=]adab       |Ghatitali       |Hetterhinhi
Pay        |Waffa           |Waf[=a.]        |Woffehinki      |Waffie
Pepper     |Filfil          |Filfil          |Filfil          |Tiflfarlo
Perfume    |'I[t:]r         |'I[t:]r         |Attar           |Hal
Perspire   |Arak            |'Ariq           |Deanghalen      |Ikimen
Pin        |Dabb[=u]s       |Dabb[=u]s       |Dabous          |Dabous
Plague     |Ta'[=u]n        |[T:][=a]'[=u]n  |Duinhaufal Eikeo|Eiked Ouìhafel
Ugly       |Ba'in           |--              |Behimet         |Behimah
Plant      |Nab[=a]t        |Nabat           |Nebhat          |Nebout
-----------+----------------+----------------+----------------+----------------


------------------+--------------------+--------------------+------------------
     English      |       Arabic       |       Mahri        |     Sokoteri
------------------+--------------------+--------------------+------------------
What is she doing |Eish yamèlhu        |Tum ul aisin        |Inempt shüyet
I drink water     |Ana sherab moye     |Nehamel el tikhe    |Ithkellare
You are very kind |Enta latif ketir    |Meshiri meikin      |Latif beyne
Do you know Mehri?|Enta taraf el Meheri|Arebuk Meheri       |Ahruh Mehri
We talk Sokotri   |Nahn natàllem el    |Nahan natallùm      |Ik n'atalam
                  |  Sokoteri          |  Sokoteriote       |  Sokoteria
Give me another   |Gibli wa[h.]ad      |Hateli tadrhaa      |Abouli
                  |  [th=][=a]na       |                    |  beladàtis
How many days from|Kam ayo'om min      |Kam yom m'boun      |Kam yom menha
  here to the sea?|  hinna illa el     |  ta heik           |  afta'a
                  |  bahr              |                    |
Near the water    |Gar[=i]b el moya    |--                  |Lal diho
------------------+--------------------+--------------------+-------------------

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 15: When they wish to warn the camel not to knock against
anything in a narrow place they cry 'Berri! Berri!']



LIST OF SOME OF THE ARABIC AND OTHER WORDS EXPLAINED IN THE TEXT


abba, 193
abr, 409
afrit, 199
ailb, 109
attar, 141
awwal, 41

batil, 277
b'dom, 109
brinjol, 141

ghail, 86
ghasl, 109
ghatrif, 248
ghi, 37, 260
gohb, 247[A]
gourod, 306

habat-assoba, 141
halwa, 221
hárami, 116
horma, 212
helf, 141
herris, 426

jembia, 199

kabila, 140
kadhlb, 108
kafila, 85
kahwa, 34
kattira, 230
kayya, 116
kazbah, 120
kei, 245[A]
kharrad, 145
khawah, 57
kho, 275[A]
kourzan, 117
kutcha, 149

lahaf, 245
loess, 128
luthba, 86

medakdak, 81
madhar, 83
madibash, 19
majilis, 34
mangola, 336
masabam, 129
merghazi, 414
mersa, 291
miet, 248[A]
mis'hap, 128
munkala, 336

nakhoda, 281

ohma, 245
ouft, 275[A]

rack, 85
reis, 281
rezai, 245

saap, 145
salang, 19
sambuka, 220
shabib, 93
shur, 275[A]
sirah, 19
siyar, 104
siyara, 104

tara, 21
tarsla, 336
tawilah, 5

whabba,  69

yusur, 294

zamouta, 141
ziara, 132
ziaret, 97

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote A: These words are used by the Gara.]



INDEX


Ababdeh tribe, 290, 296, 305
Abr Shebba, 409
Abyan, plain of the, 401, 407, 427
Abyssapolis, 269
Abyssinia, 91, 101, 314-6
Abyssinians in Sokotra, 354
Adab, 106
Adahan, 388
Addites, 242, 265-6;
  legends of, 105, 130
Aden, 46, 393;
  difficulties at, 72;
  departure from, 228, 346, 399;
  return to, 284, 398, 428
Adulis, ruins at, 241
Aelius Gallus, 247, 253
Africa, exploration in, 287
Akaba, the, 88 &c., 164, 166
Akhmed Orab, 305
Alagoum, 130
Al Agran, 124
Al Balad, 240-1
Al Hafa, 232, 235
Al Kaiti, family of, 75, 76 &c., 97, 144, 206, 282
Al Kara, 403
Al Koton, 111 &c.
Al Madi, 190, 191, 194
Albuquerque, in the Persian Gulf, 10;
  commentaries of, quoted, 6, 40, 50
Ali, mounds of, 20 &c.
Allaki, mines of, 323
Aloes, 194;
  in Sokotra, 376, 381
Amara tribe, 301
Ambergris, 344
Amri tribe, 139, 171, 277
Aòdeli tribe, 424;
  mountains of, _ib._
Apes, 271
Arab games, 4, 333
Arad, 2
Armenians, 230
Ascites, 247
Asses, 3, 20
Aydab, 300-1, 305, 325

Baboons, 412
Baggala, 8, 205
Bahrein, Islands of, 1 &c.;
  asses of, 3;
  coffee-pots, 5;
  pearl fisheries, 6;
  boats, 8;
  history, 9;
  wells in, 20, 40;
  springs, 14, 41;
  British protectorate, 13
Bahrein, Isa, Sultan of, 13. _See also_ El Khalifa
Bahr-Safi, 129
Bakhrein, 82
Balfour, Professor, 343, 382
Barahout. _See_ Bir Borhut
Basra, 83
_Batil_, 8, 229, 277
Batran, 298
Bazahel, 166
Bedja tribes in the Soudan, 301, 323, 354
Beni, 302
Bedouin, attack Maskat, 59;
  of the Hadhramout, 74, 73 &c., 93, 128, 213;
  the name, 128;
  religion of, 133, 261, 274;
  origin of, 249;
  of the Gara, 239 &c.;
  of the Soudan, 301 &c., 350;
  of Sokotra, 365 &c.;
  in Arabia, 426;
  dances, 129
Berenice, 291-2, 294, 296
Bir Baokban, 190
Bir Borhut, 138, 228, 282
Bir Lammas, 425
Bir Mighar, 401
Bisharin, tribe of, in the Sudan, 298, 301, 304 &c.
Boats, Arabian, 215, 220, 230, 277-8, 284, 288, 293.
  _See Batil_, _Baggala_, _Houra_, _Sambuka_
British. _See_ Maskat, Persian Gulf, Sokotra
Bushire, 2
Butter-making in Sokotra, 336, 346
Buttra, 17, 35, 46, 66

Camels, in the Hadhramout, fed on fish, 81;
  in Dhofar, 244;
  in the Soudan, 330;
  in Sokotra, 368-9
Camel marks, 369, 438
Camoens, 254
Campbell Bey, 289
Carrei tribe, 247
Carter, Dr., 254
Cholmley, Mr. A., 288
Coral, 294

Darour, 290
Date-palms, stories concerning,  19;
  uses of, _ib._;
  in the Hadhramout, 116
Derbat, 272
Dervishes in the Soudan, 293, 299, 304, 311-12, 326, 338
Dhofar, plain of, 233 &c.;
  products of, 235;
  antiquities in, 239;
  camels of, 244
_Dianæ Oraculum_, 266
Diodorus quoted, 318, 324
Dioscorides, name of Sokotra, 344, 363
Dirgheg, 407
Dis, 211
Dollars, Maria Theresa, 208, 239, 285, 414
Dragon's-blood tree, 344, 379
Dress of women, 95, 100, 110, 119, 136, 237, 349, 405, 424
Durand, Sir M., 9, 29

Eber, the prophet, 130, 132
Egyptians, ancient, in Arabia, 270;
  trade in frankincense, 234;
  in the Red Sea, 293;
  gold mines, 313, 318, 320 &c.
Egyptians, modern, on the Red Sea 293;
  in the Soudan 307, 309
El Hasa, 1;
  products of, 5, 38, 42
El Khalifa, family of, 12, 31, 35, 39
El Matra, 58, 68
Emerald mines, 296
Eratosthenes, 21
Erba, Mount, 314, 330
Eriosh, 354
Ethiopians, 302;
  in Sokotra, 354
Euphrates Valley Railway, 9

Fahdli tribe, 399, 400, 408 &c.
Farash, 169
Fereghet, 383
Frankincense, 224;
  in the Hadhramout, ancient trade in, 89 &c.;
  in Dhofar, 234, 245, 252 &c.;
  in Sokotra, 344, 380
French in the Persian Gulf, 60
French, Bishop, 68

Gara, mountains, 234;
  scenery of, 256 &c, 262 &c.;
  tribe, 244, 246 &c.;
  weapons of, 247;
  customs of, 257;
  women of, 258;
  religion, 260;
  language, 275
Gebaniti, tribe of the, 152
Geological notices, 211-12
Ghaida, 185
Ghail Omr, 170
Goddam, mountains of, 412, 421
Gold mines, Egyptian, 301, 313, 318 &c., 338
Graffiti, 333, 354

Hadai, 315
Hadendowa, 317
Hadhramout, valley of the, 71 &c.;
  population of, 79;
  meaning of the word, 71;
  plants of, 85, 108;
  physical features, 90, 108;
  castles, 106;
  Seyyids of, 115, 227, 280-2, 423
Hadibo. _See_ Tamarida
Hagarein, 96, 98 &c., 103
Hagarein, Abdul, Sultan of, 98 &c., 103, 141, 282
Hagheri Ask, 401, 408
Haghier, Mount, 351, 368, 378
Haibel Gabrein, 90
Halaib, 290, 298
Hami, 210
Hamoumi tribe, 168 &c., 177, 186, 207, 283
Hamoumi, Sultan of the, 214
Hamram, 275
Hatasou, Queen, 270, 293
Haula, 362
Haura, 106
Haura, Sultan of, 282
Hazarmaveth, 72, 89, 95, 133
Herodotus, quoted, 21
Himyaritic remains, 49, 104, 166, 242, 402, 405, 413;
  civilisation, 71, 143
  inscriptions, 71
Hirsch, Herr Leo, 72
Hormuz, 10
_Houri_, 68, 292

Ibadhuyah. _See_ Ibadiet
Ibadiet, sect of the, 50
Interpreters, 2, 209, 288, 317, 345-6, 364.
  _See_ Saleh Hasan

Jabberi tribe, 151, 155 &c., 165
Jayaker, Dr., 69, 228
Jebel Akhdar, 229, 284
Jebel Erba. _See_ Erba
Jebel Gabeil, 405
Jebel Sarrar, 407
Jedda, Consuls murdered at, 283
Jedid, 281;
  Sultan of, 277
_Jinni_, 219, 260, 273, 361, 415

Kabr Houd, 130, 139, 282
Kabr Saleh, 130, 139
Kadhoup, 357
Kaidoun, 97
Kalenzia, 346
Kamour, 150
Kanfar, 401-2
Karachi, 228
_Kattira_, 300
Kattiri tribe, 119, 127, 130, 139, 146-7, 277
Khaila, 93, 109
Khalifa, the, 287, 296
Khatiya, 270
Kho Rouri, 270
Khor Shinab, 307
Khoreba, 91, 92
Kilab tribe, 310, 316-7
Kishin, 277, 280;
  Sultan of, 280, 362
Koloe, ruins at, 241
Kosseir, 214, 220, 290;
  Sultan of, 282
Kufic remains, 300, 313, 316
Kurbab tribe, 311
Kutch, 284

Leprosy, 105
Locusts, 303, 306

Maaber, 219
Mahri tribe, 139, 236, 252-3, 277-8;
  in Sokotra, 343, 346, 362;
  language, 363-4, 366, 389, 393, 434
Makalla, 74 &c., 142, 224
Makalla, Manassar, Sultan of, 75 &c., 145, 224
Manamah, 3 &c.
Mandob, 161
Mansura, 241
Manteion Artemidos, 241
Marco Polo quoted, 50, 344, 355, 362
Maria Theresa dollars, 208, 239, 414
Marriage ceremonies, 101
Mashonaland, 317, 337, 373
Maskat (_See also_ Oman), 45 &c.
  description of, 46, 63;
  harbour of, 47;
  bazaars, 64;
  Portuguese at, 50 &c.;
  British in, 54, 55, 58;
  Sultans of, 54, 227, 358
Maskat, Feysul, Sultan of, 56, 61;
  visit to, 57, 229
Maskat, Tourki, Sultan of, 55
Massawa, 313
Maundeville, Sir John, 8
Medical experiences, 85, 110, 117, 136, 258, 282, 303, 348, 415-6
Merbat, 230 &c., 268-9
Merbat, Suleiman, Wali of, 231 &c., 268, 277
Mersa Halaib, 288
Meshed, 101-2, 105, 141
Miles, Colonel, 234
Minhali tribe, 139, 151, 155, 172, 277
Minqui, 266
Mirage, 401
Mis'hal, plain of, 421, 423 &c.
Mohammed Gol, 296, 301, 309
Moharek, 2;
  visit to, 13
Money of Oman, 61, 284
Morghani, sect of the, 298
Moscha, 253, 269, 270
Myos Homos, 290.
  _See_ Kosseir
Myrrh in the Hadhramout, 77, 91;
  in Dhofar, 254

Naab, 412
Nahadi tribe, 105, 155
Naida, 184-5
Nearchus, Periplus of, 6, 21, 49, 259, 269, 344, 392
Nejd, 39, 142, 236, 264, 361
Nezweh, 47, 49

Oman, 8;
  History of, 49 &c.;
  Imams of, _ib._;
  kingdom of, 235, 278;
  coins of, 284.
  _See also_ Maskat
Omr, tomb of, 171

Parsees in the Hadhramout, 75, 77
Pearl fisheries, 6 &c., 54, 292
Periplus. _See_ Nearchus
Persians at Bahrein, 11, 17;
  in Dhofar, 242
Persian Gulf, British influence in, 13,
  45 &c., 54, 59 &c.
  _See_ Slavery, Maskat, Bahrein, Portuguese, Phoenicians
Phoenicians in Bahrein, 21 &c.;
  origin of the, 22
Piracy, suppression of, 55-6;
  in Sokotra, 344
Pliny, quoted, 21, 88, 92, 152, 293
Polygamy, 114
Portuguese, pearl fisheries, 6;
  at Bahrein, 10 &c.;
  at Maskat, 50 &c.;
  in Dhofar, 254;
  in Sokotra, 357, 363, 391-2
Portuguese buildings, 11, 17, 18, 49, 63
Ptolemaic period, 291-6
Ptolemy quoted, 88, 92, 241, 266, 272
Punt, land of, 234, 270, 344

Raida, 216-7
Rakhiout, 278
Ramazan, 218, 221, 224, 292
Ras Bagashwa, 220
Ras Bernas, 292, 295
Ras Dis, 220, 281
Ras Fartak, 281
Ras Hamar, 279
Ras Momi, 356, 368, 372, 375-6
Ras Risout, 245, 269
Red Sea, coast of, 290 &c., 340;
  slave trade in, 294
Riadh, 304
Risout, 233, 279
Rizat, 275
Robat, 240-1
Roe, Sir Thomas, 355
Rostok, 47
Rufa'a, 21;
  visit to, 33

Sa'ah, 162, 173
Sabæan trade in spices, 253-4;
  inscriptions, 125, 129, 135, 333;
  ruins, 49, 240, 265, 269
Sadler, Colonel Hayes, 228
Safi, King, 129
Sagan, 125
Saièhen, 371
Saihan, 373
Saihut, 142, 207, 233, 280-1
Salaka, 333
Saleh, the prophet, 132.
  _See_ Kabr Saleh
Saleh Hasan, 73, 96, 102, 106, 109, 157, 182, 186 &c., 223
_Sambuka_, 220
Sarrar, 214-7
Sawakin, 290, 341
Sawakin Kadim, 300
Schweinfurth, Dr., 343, 391
Sedad, 67
Sellala, 331-4
Seyyids of the Hadhramout, 80
Shabwa, 91, 129, 142, 152
Shafi, sect of, 154
Sheher, 163, 171, 175, 200, 202 &c., 205 &c., 210, 281
Sheher, Hussein, Sultan of, 202, 222, 280, 281, 283
Shellal, 298, 303
Shendeh, 304
Shibahm, city of, 126, 142 &c.;
  castle of, 146
Shibahm, Salah-bin-Mohammad, Sultan of, 107, 111 &c., 162, 204, 282
Shukra, 425-7
Sief, 94, 101, 109
Siwoun, 119, 146
Siyar, Siyara, 104, 178, 202, 209, 283
Slave trade, 232;
  in the Persian Gulf, 60;
  in the Red Sea, 293, 308, 311
Slavery, Arab, 60, 80, 404, 408
Smyth, Captain, 288, 303, 320-2, 341-2
Snow, 423
Sobar, 49
Sokotra, inhabitants of, 280, 363, 369;
  history of, 343 &c., 391-2;
  geographical position, 345;
  language, 345, 357, 363-5, 439;
  antiquities of, 373-5, 379, 384;
  Christianity in, 344, 354;
  Portuguese in, 357, 363, 384, 391-2;
  English in, 363, 392-3;
  Greeks in, 392;
  scenery of, 368, 385, 396
Sokotra, Salem, Sultan of, 280, 362, 394
Solomon, 293
Somali, 89
Soudan, 287 &c.;
  Egyptian garrisons in, 290;
  slave trade in, 293, 311;
  gold, 325;
  population of, 301-2;
  mountains of, 315
Spain, annexations of Portugal, 49, 51
Sprenger, Aloys, quoted, 241-2, 247
Strabo, quoted, 293
Suakim. _See_ Sawakin.
Sufeila, 186 &c.
Suk, 391, 394

Takha, 240, 268
Talismans, 426
Tamarida, 347, 361, 391
Tamimi tribe, 139, 151, 155 &c., 171, 177, 277
Terim, 119, 146
Terre Pleine, 289
Thumna, 152
Todin, 315
Tokhum, 83
Torisi, quoted, 49
Tourki, Sultan of Maskat, 235, 238
Turks, in Bahrein, 13;
  in the Persian Gulf, 51, 54;
  in Arabia, 235, 425

Uttubi, 11

Wadi Addattereh (Soudan), 335
Wadi Adim (Hadhramout), 90-1, 159, 169, 170 &c., 189
Wadi al Ain (Hadhramout), 144, 158
Wadi al Aisa (Hadhramout), 90 &c.
Wadi Ambaya (Soudan), 334
Wadi Banna (Fahdli), 401-6
Wadi bin Ali (Hadhramout), 159, 163 &c.
Wadi Doan (Hadhramout), 72, 90-1, 94, 104
Wadi Gabeit (Soudan), 310, 318, 320, 328, 333
Wadi Ghafait (Hadhramout), 84
Wadi Gherid (Hadhramout), 210
Wadi Ghersid (Gara), 256 &c.
Wadi Gumatyewa (Soudan), 315
Wadi Hadai (Soudan), 310, 316
Wadi Hadda (Fahdli), 421
Wadi Hadira (Hadhramout), 163
Wadi Hassan (Fahdli), 407, 409-10
Wadi Hayet (Soudan), 311, 328
Wadi Howeri (Hadhramout), 85-6, 163
Wadi Iroquis (Soudan), 315
Wadi Kasr (Hadhramout), 96
Wadi Khonab (Hadhramout), 130
Wadi Khur (Soudan), 330
Wadi Koukout (Soudan), 335
Wadi Latat (Hadhramout), 130
Wadi Mosila (Hadhramout), 219, 281-282
Wadi Nahast (Gara), 265
Wadi Reban (Fahdli), 418
Wadi Samluf (Fahdli), 427
Wadi Ser (Hadhramout), 126
Wadi Shekheri (Hadhramout), 219
Wadi Sherwin (Hadhramout), 218
Wahabi, sect of, 5, 12, 34, 54, 63, 361
Wali Abdullah-bin-Amr, feud of, 402 &c.
Wali Suleiman. _See_ Merbat.
Wellsted, Lieutenant, 358, 393
Wingate, Colonel, 288
Wrede, Herr v., 72, 97, 129, 130, 155

Xavier, Francis, 355

Yafei (tribe in the Hadhramout), 75, 139, 143, 402 &c.
Yafei Boubakr-bin-Said, Sultan of, 402 &c., 408
Yarsahal, seal of, 151
Yehazahaz, 387

Zanzibar, 55-6, 229
Zimbabwe, ruins of, 407
Zoko. _See_ Suk
Zufar. _See_ Dhofar

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Royal Engineers. By Lieut.-General J. J. MacLeod Innes, V.C.
Royal Artillery. By Major-General O'Callaghan.
The Clergy. By the Rev. W. B. Trevelyan.
The Judges. By Sir Herbert Stephen, Bart.
Barristers. By Augustine Birrell, Q.C., M.P.
The Medical Profession. By Brudenell Carter, F.R.C.S.
Vice-Chancellors. By the Rev. A. Austen Leigh,
           Provost of King's College, Cambridge.
Headmasters of Public Schools. By Dr. Welldon, Metrop. Bishop of Calcutta.
Boys at Public Schools. By the Rev. G. T. Heywood.
Banking. By J. Herbert Tritton.
Music. By J. A. Fuller-Maitland.
Artists. By G. F. Watts, R.A.
Architects. By Alfred Waterhouse, R.A.

       *       *       *       *       *

London: SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 Waterloo Place, S.W.

Transcriber's Notes:

This text contains many diacritical marks and symbols, where possible
these are represented in the text by the following symbols.

Diacritical mark              above  below
--------------------------  ------  ------
macron (straight line)       [=x]   [x=]
2 dots (diaresis or umlaut)  [:x]   [x:]
1 dot                        [.x]   [x.]
grave accent                 [\x]   [x\]
acute (égu) accent           [/x]   [x/]
circumflex                   [^x]   [x^]
caron (v-shaped symbol)      [vx]   [xv]
breve (u-shaped symbol)      [)x]   [x)]
tilde                        [~x]   [x~]
cedilla                      [,x]   [x,]

Diacritical marks are sometimes combined e.g. a character with a macron
above and a dot below is respresented as [=x.] in the text.

If a diacritical spans more than one letter, it is represented
like so [xy=].

The HTML version of this text contains links to the page images which
will assist the reader to discern the symbols used by the author.





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