Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Life in the Soudan - Adventures Amongst the Tribes, and Travels in Egypt, in 1881 and 1882
Author: Williams, Josiah
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life in the Soudan - Adventures Amongst the Tribes, and Travels in Egypt, in 1881 and 1882" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



(This file was produced from images generously made


Transcriber’s Note: The author's variable spelling has been preserved,
except in cases where it could be nothing other than a printing error.



[Illustration: LIFE IN THE SOUDAN]



[Illustration: FROM A NEGATIVE BY LOMBARDI, PALL MALL.

Yours very truly

Josiah Williams.]



                           LIFE IN THE SOUDAN:
               ADVENTURES AMONGST THE TRIBES, AND TRAVELS
                       IN EGYPT, IN 1881 AND 1882.

                                   BY
                      DR. JOSIAH WILLIAMS, F.R.G.S.
          (_Surgeon-Major, Imperial Ottoman Army, 1876-1877_).

                              ILLUSTRATED.

                                 LONDON:
                      REMINGTON & CO., PUBLISHERS,
                    HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN.
                                  1884.

                        [_All Rights Reserved._]



                                   To
                    SIR SAMUEL WHITE BAKER, F.R.G.S.,
                    I DEDICATE, WITH HIS PERMISSION,
                               THIS BOOK,
                        CONTAINING AN ACCOUNT OF
                          TRAVELS IN THE SOUDAN
                         AND EXPLORATION IN THE
                     BASÉ OR KUNAMA COUNTRY IN 1882.



ILLUSTRATIONS.


    THE AUTHOR                       _Frontispiece._

    SOUÂKIN                                     97

    HADENDOWAH ARAB CAMEL-MEN                  128

    KASSALA MOUNTAIN                           160

    THE AUTHOR ATTENDING TO ARAB AILMENTS      248

    MOUNTAIN PASS NEAR SANHÎT                  304

    THE CAUSEWAY AT MASSAWAH                   312



CONTENTS.


                                                                      PAGE

                               CHAPTER I.

    Leave England for Paris—Drugs and Clothing Required—A “Sleeby”
    German—Turin                                                      5-12

                               CHAPTER II.

    Milan—The Cathedral—Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele—Piazza
    d’Armi—Palazzo de Brera—Lake of Como—Bologna—Its Ancient
    History—Leaning Towers—The Certosa—Teatro Communale—Brindisi     13-23

                              CHAPTER III.

    P. and O. Steamer _Tanjore_—Arrival of the Mail and
    Passengers—Ancient Brindisi—Brindisi to Alexandria—Alexandria
    Past and Present—Its Trade                                       24-37

                               CHAPTER IV.

    The Fertilizing Rivers of Egypt—Leave Alexandria—Incidents
    _en route_—Shepheard’s Hotel—Ancient and Modern Cairo—The
    Donkey-boys—Arab Patients—Dancing Dervishes—The House where
    Joseph, Mary, and the Infant Saviour Lived in Old Cairo—The
    Boulac Museum—The Petrified Forest—Mokattam Hills—Tombs of the
    Caliphs and Citadel—Cairo by Sunset                              38-66

                               CHAPTER V.

    A Young American at Shepheard’s Hotel—Drive to the Pyramids
    of Gizeh—Ascent and Exploration of the Pyramid of Cheops—The
    Sphinx                                                           67-80

                               CHAPTER VI.

    Heliopolis—The Shoubra
    Road—Bedrashyn—Mitrahenny—Memphis—Sakhara—Apis
    Mausoleum—Worship of the Bull Apis—Tomb of King Phta—Meet
    the Khedive—Engage Servants for the Soudan                       81-91

                              CHAPTER VII.

    The Land of Goshen—Ancient Canals—Suez—Howling
    Dervishes—Eclipse of the Moon and Strange Behaviour of
    Natives—Leave Suez—Where the Israelites Crossed the Red
    Sea—Pass Mount Sinai—Coral Reefs Abundant                        92-97

                              CHAPTER VIII.

    Arrival at Souâkin—The Soudan—Bedouin Arab Prisoners in
    the Square, Not “on the Square”—Ivory—Engage Camels—Sheik
    Moussa—Souâkin Slaves—Tragic End of a Doctor—Hadendowah
    Arabs—An Ill-fated Missionary Enterprise                        98-110

                               CHAPTER IX.

    The Start Across the Desert—My Camel Serves me a Scurvy
    Trick—The Camel, its Habits and Training                       111-118

                               CHAPTER X.

    Our First Camp—Torrents of Rain—Jules Bardet—Camel-drivers
    Behave Badly—Suleiman in Trouble—Camel-drivers get
    Upset—The Desert—Two of Us Lose our Way—Jules Suffers from
    Dysentery—Sand-storm—A Pilgrim Dies on the Road; Another in the
    Camp—Jules’ Illness—Camp Split Up—Lose Our Way—Encamp Several
    Days in the Desert—Arab Huts—The Mirage—A Lion                 119-143

                               CHAPTER XI.

    Arrive at Kassala—Description of Kassala—We buy Camels
    and Horses—The Mudir gives a Dinner—Jules’ Death and
    Burial—Hyænas—Arab Patients—Mahoom’s History—Demetrius
    Mosconas on Slavery—Menagerie at Kassala                       144-153

                              CHAPTER XII.

    Camels from the Atbara—The Mudir—Gordon Pasha’s Character in
    the Soudan—Fertility of the Soudan                             154-159

                              CHAPTER XIII.

    Leave Kassala—Character of the Country—Meet Beni-Amir Arabs
    on the River-bed—The Baobob Tree                               160-164

                              CHAPTER XIV.

    Encamp at Heikota—Sheik Ahmed—Herr Schumann and His Zareeba—We
    Make a Zareeba—The Mahdi—Excitement in the Village—Horrible
    Tragedy—Sheik Ahmed Dines with us—The Magic Lantern—Lions
    Visit Us                                                       165-177

                               CHAPTER XV.

    Patients at Heikota—Leave Heikota—Game in the Basé Country—See
    our First Lion—A Lion Interviews the Author—typo Tetél, Nellut,
    and other Game Killed on the March                             178-183

                              CHAPTER XVI.

    We Arrive at the Basé or Kunama Country—The Village of
    Sarcella—Murder of Mr. Powell and Party—My Camel and I
    Unceremoniously Part Company—The First Basé We See—Encamp at
    Koolookoo—Our First Interview with Basé—They make “Aman” with
    Us—Their Appearance—Description of Koolookoo and the Basé
    People—Their Habits and Customs                                184-200

                              CHAPTER XVII.

    We leave Koolookoo, Accompanied by a Number of the Basé—The
    Magic Lantern—See Buffalo and Giraffe for the First Time—Two
    Buffalos Killed—A Basé Feast—Curious Basé Dance—They Dry their
    Meat on Lines in the Sun—A Wounded Buffalo—Hoodoo, Chief Sheik
    of the Basé, Visits Us—A Column of Sand—A Leper—The Basé
    Squabble over the Meat—We Arrive at Abyssinia                  201-214

                             CHAPTER XVIII.

    The Dembelas Attack Us, Mahomet Wounded, Narrow Escape of two
    of our Party—Activity in Camp, We Make a Zareeba and Fire
    the Country—Hold a Council of War—Our Silent and Dangerous
    Ride—Hoodoo’s Sagacity—Arrival in Camp of Mahomet, Wounded—We
    Retreat—Mahomet’s Death and Burial                             215-229

                              CHAPTER XIX.

    Messrs. James and Phillipps Start on a Visit to
    Rasalulu—Curious Way of Shaving Children’s Heads—A Disgusting
    Basé—The Camel-drivers become Mutinous—Intended Attack
    by Basé—We Fire the Country and Make a Zareeba—Encamp at
    Wo-amma—Trouble Again with Camel-men—Lions Disturb Us—Arrival
    at Heikota—A Tale of Blood and Slavery                         230-243

                               CHAPTER XX.

    Patients Arrive from all Parts—Rough Journeys—Arrive at the
    Hamran Settite—Mahomet Sali Deceives us—Crocodiles, Turtle,
    and Fish—We Move on to Boorkattan, in Abyssinia—Next Day we
    Move off as Abyssinians Approach—We Catch Enormous Quantities
    of Fish with the Net—Narrow Escape from a Wounded Buffalo—The
    Coorbatch Administered—Scorpions and Snakes—Hamrans Visit
    Us—Hamran mode of Hunting and Snaring—Hamran and Basé—The
    Hamrans Threaten to Fire on Us—Again Return to the Hamran
    Settite—Encamp at Omhagger                                     244-263

                              CHAPTER XXI.

    A Boa-constrictor Visits Us—The Burton Boat—Moussa’s Behaviour
    Entails a Thrashing and His Discharge—Great Heat—A Fine
    Hippopotamus Killed—Hamran Feast—The White Ants—Another
    Hippopotamus Killed—Mahomet Sali Brings Supplies—Native
    Music in the Night—Delicate Hints Conveyed to the
    Performer—A Remarkably Fine Nellut Shot—Arab and Egyptian
    Taxation—Baboons—A Hamran Story—Ali Stung by a Scorpion—On
    the March Once More—Rough Journeys                             264-278

                              CHAPTER XXII.

    Encamp at Lakatakoora Without the Caravan—Description of
    Village—Basé Ladies Visit Me ere I Get Out of Bed—They Receive
    Presents and are very Amusing—Enormous Numbers of Doves and
    Sand-grouse—Aboosalal to Sogoda—Boa-constrictor Killed—An
    Unpleasant Journey, We all Get Separated—Arrive at Heikota
    Again                                                          279-284

                             CHAPTER XXIII.

    An Abyssinian Improvisatore and His Little Slave—Prepare for a
    March to Massawa—A Strange Basé Breakfast—Patients—Arrive at
    Toodloak—Beni-Amirs Encamped on the Gash—Lions and Leopards
    are Shot—Our Monkeys in Camp—Baboon Mode of Attacking
    Leopards—Crafty Baboons—Lions Abound—Hyæna Method of Attacking
    a Lion—Hyæna Interviews Mr. Colvin—Arrival at Amadeb—Departure
    from Amadeb—Bareas Attempt an Attack on the Caravan—Beni-Amirs
    Watering their Flocks and Herds—We Meet with a young
    Elephant—Leopard and Hyæna Shot at Khor-Baraker                285-297

                              CHAPTER XXIV.

    A Lion Near the Camp—The Monks of Chardamba—We Meet Ali Dheen
    Pasha, Governor-General of the Soudan—Arrival at Keren, or
    Sanhît—The Priests at Keren—Account of Keren—Merissa—Dra, a
    Domestic Slave, Made Free—Descent from Sanhît to the Anseba
    Valley—The Birds There—Along the River-bed of the Labak—A Big
    March—Massawa—Farewell to Camels—Massawa to Souâkin—Take in
    Cargo—Farewell to the Soudan—Arrival at Suez                   298-314

                              CHAPTER XXV.

    Suez to Cairo—Alexandria—On Board the _Mongolia_—Passengers
    on Board—Hibernian Humour—Venice—The Piazza of St. Mark—The
    Campanile—The Piazetta—The Zecca, or Mint—The Palace of the
    Doges—St. Mark’s—The Arsenal                                   315-330

                              CHAPTER XXVI.

    We Hear of the Murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr.
    Burke—A Grand Serenade on the Grand Canal—My Journey from
    Venice to England                                              331-338



PREFACE.


The Soudan, two years ago, was a name unknown to the million, and I will
venture to say that at that time not one in fifty knew anything about it.
Only those who could afford to obtain Sir Samuel Baker’s interesting and
instructive work, “The Nile Sources of Abyssinia,” would be acquainted
with the locality and other particulars.

The literature extant on Egypt proper would probably amount to tons, but
that on the Soudan would occupy a very small space indeed on the library
shelf, for the simple reason that so very few have travelled through it.

In November, 1881, I left England to accompany six gentlemen on an
exploring expedition in the Soudan, and, in view of passing events in
Egypt and that locality, I indulged in the hope that an account of my
journey will not be unacceptable to the public. I held the post of
medical officer to the expedition, partly on account of my experience
in the Turkish war, where I was continually brought face to face with
dysentery, ague, and other tropical diseases, which are so easily
recognised without any extraneous assistance, medical or lay, but which
are troublesome to treat, especially when hampered by an ignorant and
fussy interference. Doubtless many faults of omission and commission may
be found in my book; but I trust that those who criticise it will do so
leniently, and remember that it has been written during spare hours,
when the exigencies of practice would allow of my seeking recreation by
the use of my pen. “Oh, that mine enemy would write a book!” was the
heartfelt expression of a vindictive old gentleman, well known for his
great patience. My enemies, I trust, are few; those I have shall be
gratified, though I hope I shall not find any who are utterly callous,
but will use me in a gentlemanly fashion.

I have ventured to describe not only my travels in the Soudan, but the
journey from England and home again, extracted from my journal, which
is most accurate, as I kept it religiously day by day. Much of the
old-world history has been culled from various sources of information.
The Illustrations of Soudan scenery, natives, and objects of interest
are from rude sketches of my own, elaborated by Mr. Fanshawe, a perfect
master in the art. The frontispiece is from a photograph taken by Messrs.
Lombardi and Co., of Pall Mall.

Although I am aware of the fact that Mr. F. L. James has published a
book on the Soudan, I have carefully refrained from reading it, fearing
I might inadvertently use any of his expressions, and also feeling sure
that in _some_ matters we may materially differ in opinion.

Although I have, on some occasions, written for the medical journals, I
am quite aware that there may be many faults of style and finish in this
my first effort at a book; such shortcomings I would ask the reader to
overlook. It is but a plain, unvarnished account of a journey through a
territory hitherto but little known, and as such I trust it may be of
interest to the majority of my readers.



CHAPTER I.

    LEAVE ENGLAND FOR PARIS—DRUGS AND CLOTHING REQUIRED—A “SLEEBY”
    GERMAN—TURIN.


I was bound for the Soudan, and had arranged to meet my party at Brindisi
on the 21st of November, 1881. I therefore sent on all my heavy baggage
by Peninsular and Oriental steamer to Suez; included in this was a
good-sized medicine chest, well stocked with drugs for the relief or cure
of nearly all the ills that flesh is heir to.

I am an old campaigner, having served as a surgeon-major in the Turkish
Army in 1876 and ’77, consequently had a very good idea of what drugs
would be most necessary and useful. Knowing also that we were going to
a very hot part of the globe, I took as few liquids, such as tinctures,
&c., as possible.

Everything that I could have made in the form of pills I got Messrs.
Richardson and Co., of Leicester, to do; their coated pills stood the
journey splendidly, and could always be depended on.

It will not be necessary to enumerate all the contents of the
medicine-chest; but I think it might be useful to those who take a
similar journey if I mention a few things that ought certainly to be
taken, and they are the following: A good stock of quinine, oil of
male-fern, as tape-worm is by no means uncommon; ipecacuanha, for that
formidable complaint, dysentery; castor oil, opium, Dover’s powder,
iodoform, chlorodyne, calomel, blue pill, and various other mercurial
preparations, much required for complaints in the Soudan; iodide of
potash, carbonate of soda, powdered alum, sulphate of zinc, sugar of
lead, solution of atropine, solution of ammonia, Epsom salts, a large
bottle of purgative pills, nitrate of silver (lunar caustic), carbolic
acid, lint, a few dozen bandages, and plaster in a tin. Ointments are
useless, as they soon become quite liquid in such a hot climate, and run
all over the medicine chest, making a great mess.

_Clothing._—Of course every gentleman will be provided with the ordinary
European clothing for use in civilized parts, but such things as
nicely-polished boots, collars, neckties, and so forth, may be easily
dispensed with in the Soudan. The most necessary articles are two or
three dozen pairs summer socks, half-a-dozen thin flannel shirts, three
or four silk shirts, three pairs of _brown_ leather lace-up boots, and a
comfortable pair of slippers, three or four suits of thin light clothing,
a strong jean coat and trousers, that will not be easily torn by the
thorns whilst hunting, and a pith helmet.

Soldiers cannot march without easy boots, and travellers cannot travel
with comfort unless they have suitable braces. This may seem a small
matter to talk about, but I have often heard strong language poured forth
at the secession of a trouser-button; and I know from past experience
what a nuisance it is to be obliged to sew on one’s trouser-buttons.
A long time is spent in searching for a needle and thread, and a much
longer time, by the unpractised one, in sewing on the button. Now,
fortunately, these annoyances are things of the past, since the invention
of what is known as “the traveller’s patent buttonless brace.”

It is simplicity itself. Instead of buttons on the trousers, there are
eyelet holes, through which a little bar attached to the brace—instead
of a loop—is slipped, and there is an end for ever of the nuisance of
buttons coming off.

A good supply of soap for washing clothes should be taken, also plenty
for personal use. Pear’s Soap, I think, is an excellent one in every
respect. Some of our party took thick woollen pads with them, which they
wore over the spine. I did not, neither do I think them at all necessary.

As I was not due at Brindisi until the 21st November, I decided to
have a ramble through parts of Italy which I had not before visited.
Accordingly, I left England in the early part of the month.

On my way to Paris I made the acquaintance of a German residing in
London. We soon got on conversational terms, and ere long he informed me
that he had not been well lately, and was much concerned about himself,
that one afternoon, feeling rather tired, he lay down on the sofa,
intending to have a nap. He was so unhappy or unwise as to sleep for a
whole week without once awaking. To sink into this blissful state of
oblivion may have its advantages, also its disadvantages. On another
occasion he performed the same feat, but indulged in this lethargic
propensity for a much longer period. If I remember rightly, he observed
this condition during a fortnight. However, I pointed out to him what an
immense advantage this was, as he would not have his mind worried by the
Income Tax, Poor Rate, and other objectionable collectors; also what a
saving in eating and drinking would be effected by this _somnia similima
mortis_ habit of his, and that balmy sleep was kind nature’s sweet
restorer. Strange to say, my arguments were ineffective, as he replied
that “Sleeb vas all very vell in its way, but I would rater not sleeb
so much as dat, as I have my business to attend to, for vich I must be
wide-avake.”

We were glad to get off the boat that took us from Dover to Calais, as
both of us suffered from that miserable complaint, _mal-de-mer_, to some
extent. We reached la belle Paris in the evening, very glad of a rest.
After spending two days very pleasantly and agreeably in Paris, I took
train at 9 p.m. from the Gare de Lyon for Turin. Fortunately, a French
gentleman and I were the only two occupants of the carriage during the
night. We turned up the arm-rests, each occupied a side of the carriage,
and slept soundly all night. At Maćon we had breakfast, wash and brush
up, then resumed our journey. Passing through grand mountain scenery,
and quite close to the railway, we passed a beautiful lake some miles
in extent, the name of which I forget. When we reached Chambery I lost
my agreeable French companion. In the afternoon we ran through the Mont
Cenis tunnel, the time occupied being just thirty-eight minutes. The
gradient became somewhat steep, and the lovely Alpine scenery glorious
and lonely, now winding through deep gorges, anon running downwards for
miles along the very edge of a fearful precipice.

I reached Turin in the evening succeeding my departure from Paris. The
station is situated in the Piazza Carlo Felice, and is a fine, spacious
building. When my luggage had been duly inspected by Custom House
officials, I was permitted to transport myself and my belongings to an
omnibus from the Hotel Trambetta, whither I was driven just in time for
_table d’hôte_. Immediately after leaving the station the driver was
stopped by an official, who opened the door, asked if I had any complaint
to make, and looked round to see if there were any provisions, as the
octroi duties prevail in Italy. I had no complaint; the door was shut,
and off we went.

As I did not intend to remain long in Turin, I was up the following
morning in good time, determined to see as much of the place as I could
in a short time. The streets are clean and well laid out, the houses
large and handsome generally, and the town comparatively modern, although
it was originally founded by a tribe called the Taurini, was the capital
of Piedmont during the 14th century, and the capital of Italy until 1865.
The population is about 208,000, and the University perhaps the most
important in Italy, there being over 1,500 students.

I should liked to have spent a week in exploring Turin and the
neighbourhood, but had to be content with the short time at my disposal.
I took a walk down the Via Lagrange, and soon reached the Palazzo Madama
(Piazza Castello). This Palace was used for the sittings of the Italian
Senate when Turin was the seat of government (1865). In the early part
of last century the mother of King Amadeus lived in and embellished it.
Opposite this is the Sardinian monument, presented to the city by the
Milanese in 1859, just after the war, on which, _in relievo_, is the
figure of Victor Emmanuel—_Il re galuntuomo_—at the head of his troops.
Just beyond the Palazzo Madama is the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace). The
exterior is nothing to look at, being plain and heavy, but the interior
is magnificent. From here I extended my walk to the Giardino Reale (Royal
Gardens), then the Cathedral of Turin, Santa Giovanni Battista, which was
erected in the latter part of the 15th century by Pintelli. In the chapel
of St. Sudorio, just behind the high altar, is a small portion of linen
cloth in a glass case. This is a valuable relic, for it is said to be a
portion of the cloth in which the body of the Saviour was embalmed. This
may, or may not, be true; belief in the matter is optional. One really
gets so accustomed in Italy to seeing the bones of deceased saints, a bit
of the true cross, a nail of it, and so on, that the probability is nine
out of ten are sceptical.



CHAPTER II.

    MILAN—THE CATHEDRAL—GALLERIA VITTORIO EMMANUELE—PIAZZA
    D’ARMI—PALAZZO DE BRERA—LAKE OF COMO BOLOGNA—ITS ANCIENT
    HISTORY—LEANING TOWERS—THE CERTOSA—TEATRO COMMUNALE—BRINDISI.


From Turin I went by train to Milan. I ought to have gone direct past
Magenta, but by some mistake I found myself making quite a round-about
journey, _viâ_ Piacenza and Lodi; however, all’s well that ends well. I
arrived at the hotel in Milan in time for _table d’hôte_. Now, although I
am writing a book principally on travels and adventures in Egypt and the
Soudan, I dare say my readers will excuse me if I attempt a description
of my travels out and home. All the places I visited were extremely
interesting to me, and I cannot forbear a little gossip and relating
what I know respecting them. Those who have not visited these places
will perhaps be pleased to read my description, and those who have will
be able to compare notes and see if they are correct. I had been told
that the best time to visit Il Duomo—the Cathedral—was at eight or nine
o’clock in the morning, on account of the splendid view obtainable from
the roof; this I did on the morning following my arrival, and was richly
rewarded for my trouble. Il Duomo is certainly a magnificent structure,
inferior in magnitude to St. Peter’s at Rome, but in some respects
not an unworthy rival. It is built of white marble, and is one of the
most impressive ecclesiastical edifices in the world. In its present
form it was commenced in 1387, and is not yet entirely completed. Its
form is that of a Latin cross, divided into five naves, terminated by
an octagonal apsis, and supported by fifty-two octagonal pilasters of
uniform size, except four, which, having to bear the cupola, are larger.

Around the exterior are 4,500 niches, of which above 3,000 are already
occupied by statues. In the interior everything is of the most imposing
and gorgeous description. I said everything, but I should except an image
of wax of the Virgin Mary, with the infant Saviour in her arms. The waxen
face and arms looked very dirty, her attire was very commonplace-looking
stuff, and I did not think her rather dirty-looking neck was much
improved by a bit of paltry-looking green ribbon encircling it. This
image would certainly be more suitable at Madame Tussaud’s than in this
beautiful cathedral. But I will finish with the exterior. The roof is a
perfect forest of marble pinnacles, nearly all crammed with most valuable
marble statues. The celebrated marble flower-bed contains several
thousand flowers, each distinct and each different in design. I leave
the roof and ascend the tower, from which I obtain a magnificent view of
the Alpine range, Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, the St. Bernard and Matterhorn
right away to the Superga and Mont Cenis.

In the interior we notice the rich stained-glass windows of the choir,
comprising about 350 subjects of Biblical history, the Gothic decorations
of the sacristy, the candelabra in front of the altar shaped like a
tree, and decorated with jewels, then the Chapel of St. Borromeo, which
is a subterranean chapel of a most gorgeous and costly character, as it
is one mass of jewels. The shrine and walls are silver, all inlaid with
gold and precious stones. If I remember rightly, I paid a franc extra for
my visit here, and had the gratification of seeing the embalmed body of
St. Borromeo, with the valuable rings of office still on his fingers. A
golden crown (presented by the unfortunate Maria Teresa) is suspended
over his head, and a large crucifix of splendid emeralds lies on his
chest—this, I am told, was given by the Empress of Austria.

Of course, in Milan, as in all large towns in Italy, there are any number
of beautiful and remarkable churches. Among the most remarkable edifices
are the church of Sant’ Ambrogio, founded by St. Ambrose in 387, the
churches of Sant’ Eustargio, San Lorenzo, Santa Maria delle Grazie, with
a cupola and sacristy by Bramante, and the celebrated Last Supper by
Leonardo da Vinci; Santa Maria della Passione, a majestic edifice, with
excellent paintings and a magnificent mausoleum; San Paolo, San Carlo
Borromeo, &c.

Immediately adjoining the Cathedral is a magnificent square, which
was finished on the occasion of the Austrian Emperor’s visit to Milan
in 1875. This is called the Piazza del Duomo. From this square I pass
through the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele, a very fine glass-roofed arcade,
or gallery, connecting the Piazza del Duomo with the Scala Theatre; the
cost of this was about £320,000. It was commenced in 1865 and opened in
1867. The glass canopy is illuminated by 2,000 jets of gas, and when
these and the beautiful and brilliant shops are lighted the effect is
charming. The length of this kind of covered street is 320 yards. La
Scala Theatre was not open for performances when I was there, but by the
judicious disposition of a franc or so I obtained admission just to see
it. It is, I understand, capable of accommodating 3,600 spectators. I
next strolled on to the Piazza d’Armi, which occupies an immense space,
obtained by the demolition of the citadel and its outworks. Part of
it has been converted into an amphitheatre, 800 feet long by 400 feet
broad, used in summer for races and shows, and capable of containing
30,000 spectators. The castle, now a barrack, fronts the Piazza d’Armi
on one side; at the opposite side is the Porta Sempione, with the
fine Arco Sempione, or Arco della Pace. This is a lofty gateway, with
three passages, built of blocks of white marble, adorned with reliefs
and statues, and bearing inscriptions commemorating the emancipation
of Italy. My next visit was to the Palazzo di Brera, or Delle Scienze
Lettere ed Arte, containing the Pinacoteca, or picture-gallery, with a
very valuable collection of paintings and statuary, and containing also
the library of the Academy (170,000 volumes). Besides this library, Milan
possesses the Ambrosian library, the earliest and still one of the most
valuable public libraries in Europe. There is also a valuable museum
of natural history, a conservatory of music, a military college, a
theological seminary, and a veterinary school.

Though Milan is one of the most ancient towns in Lombardy, it has so
often been partially destroyed and rebuilt that few antiquities remain.
It is entered by eleven gates, several of which are magnificent. Its
foundation is attributed to the Insubrian Gauls; but the first distinct
notice of it occurs B.C. 221, when it was subdued by the Romans, under
whom it acquired so much importance that in the division of the empire
attributed to Constantine the Great it ranks as the second city of
Italy. In the middle of the fifth century it was sacked by the Huns,
under Attila, and again in the following century by the Goths; but
greater horrors yet awaited it, for the Goths, who had been driven out
by Belisarius, having regained possession by the aid of the Burgundians,
gave it up to the flames, and put almost all its inhabitants to the
sword. The most important manufactures are tobacco, silks, cottons, lace,
carpets, hats, earthenware, white-lead, jewelry, and articles in gold
and silver. The spinning and throwing of silk employs a large number
of hands, and furnish the staple article of trade. The other principal
articles are corn, rice, cheese, and wines.

In the evening of the second day (whilst engaged in the purchase of
everything Milanese in the way of photographs) I met with a Milan
gentleman, who had lived some years in America, and who could speak
English remarkably well. He was a genial, good-hearted looking kind of
fellow, and we soon got into an animated conversation. I was surprised
to find how well up he was in English politics, and as for the Irish
question, he could hold his own with any Englishman; he was, too, a great
admirer of Lord Beaconsfield. When we had had about an hour’s chat I was
about to return to my hotel; he then asked me how long I was going to
remain in Milan. I told him I intended leaving next day for Bologna.

“Have you seen the lake of Como?” said he.

“No,” I replied. “I should like to do so very much, but fear I cannot
spare the time, as I have to be at Brindisi on the 21st.”

“But you must not leave,” said he, “until you have been there; it is only
a run of thirty miles to Como by rail. I live there. Come to-morrow and
visit me, and I will put you in the way of seeing Bologna in half the
time that you would do it in without assistance.”

This very kind offer I accepted, and spent next day a very agreeable time
with my new acquaintance, who was most hospitable and friendly. We parted
with mutual protestations of goodwill, and I took train for Bologna,
which is several hours’ ride from Milan.

Bologna (anciently Bonovia) is one of the oldest, largest, and richest
cities of Italy. It lies at the foot of the Apennines, between the Rivers
Reno and Savena, 190 miles N.N.W. from Rome. It is five or six miles in
circumference, and is surrounded by an unfortified wall of brick; it has
extensive manufactures of silk goods, velvet, artificial flowers, &c. It
struck me as being a quaint old city. All the houses, or nearly so, are
built out over the shops and pavement, supported by large pillars, and
forming a covered way nearly all over the city which affords shade and
shelter to the foot-passengers.

Bologna was long renowned for its university, founded, according
to tradition, by Theodosias, the younger, in 425, and restored by
Charlemagne, which, in the centuries of barbarism, spread the light
of knowledge all over Europe. It once had 10,000 students, but the
number now averages only 300. The university formerly possessed so much
influence, that even the coins of the city bore its motto—_Bonovia
docet_. During 1400 years every new discovery in science and the
arts found patrons here. The medical school is celebrated for having
introduced the dissection of human bodies, and the scientific journals
prove that the love of investigation is still awake in Bologna. The
chief square in the city, Piazza Maggiore, the forum in the Middle Ages,
is adorned by several venerable buildings. Among them are the Palazzo
Pubblico, which contains some magnificent halls, adorned with statues and
paintings; Palazzo del Padesta, chiefly remarkable as having been the
prison of Eugenis, King of Sardinia, and son of the Emperor Frederick
II. who was captured and kept here by the Bolognese for more than twenty
years, till his death; and the church or Ansilica of St. Petronio, which
was commenced in 1390, and is not yet finished. The palaces and churches
are too numerous to make any remarks on. The leaning towers, Degli
Asmilli and Garisenda, dating from the twelfth century, are among the
most remarkable objects in Bologna. The former is square, and of massive
brick-work, built in three portions, and diminishing in diameter to the
top. Its height is 321 feet, and its inclination from the perpendicular
6ft. 10in. The Garisenda is 161 feet high, and inclines a little more
than 8 feet. Bologna has always been famous for cheap living, and has
been chosen as a residence by many literary men. Gourmands praise it
as the native country of excellent maccaroni, sausages, liquors, and
preserved fruits. The pilgrimage to the Madonna di S. Lucca, whose
church is situated at the foot of the Apennines, half a league distant
from Bologna, and to which an arcade of 640 arches leads, annually
attracts a great number of people from all parts of Italy. Bologna
was founded by the Etruscans under the name of _Felsina_, before the
foundation of Rome. In 189 B.C. it was made a Roman colony, and called
_Bonovia_.

I had been told that the Certosa, or burying ground, was well worth a
visit. It is about 2½ miles outside the city by the Porta St. Isaia,
so I took a cab and was well rewarded for my trouble, for this burying
ground is the most beautiful and remarkable in Italy. Here we can walk
for hours under cover between rows of statues and marble tablets of the
greatest beauty. When I returned to my hotel I found dinner waiting, and
afterwards it struck me that I must seek some more exhilarating mode
of amusement after my visit to the Certosa. I accordingly made my way
to the Teatro Communale, one of the three best theatres in Italy, San
Carlos at Naples and La Scala in Milan taking precedence. The opera was
“Mefistofele,” splendidly mounted and well supported by artistes. The
orchestra was large and all that could be desired by the most fastidious
critics, and there are plenty of them in a Bolognese audience. Boxes are
in _every_ tier in the house, and the effect is very pretty.

As I had to start for Brindisi at 3 a.m. on Sunday, November 20th, I had
not much time for sleep, notwithstanding which I got between the sheets
until then, when I was conveyed to the station and finished my nap in the
train.



CHAPTER III.

    P. AND O. STEAMER “TANJORE”—ARRIVAL OF THE MAIL AND
    PASSENGERS—ANCIENT BRINDISI—BRINDISI TO ALEXANDRIA— ALEXANDRIA
    PAST AND PRESENT—ITS TRADE.


I arrived at Brindisi at 10 p.m. and was straightway driven off to the
quay, was soon on board the P. and O. steamship _Tanjore_, commanded by
Captain Briscoe, and not many minutes afterwards in my berth and fast
asleep. My slumber was disturbed at 6 a.m. by the arrival of the Indian
mail and a large number of passengers, who produced a great commotion
over-head quite incompatible with sleep. I therefore turned out, and
was soon on deck watching the busy scene. Some little time after I had
breakfasted I discovered two of the party which I was to accompany,
Messrs. F. L. James and E. L. Phillipps. We were to meet three more at
Cairo, and one at Suez, to complete the party.

No one would care to remain very long in Brindisi, as it is a most
uninteresting place notwithstanding its antiquity. I remember once, in
1877, spending a few hours there, and was then very glad when my train
left for Naples. Brindisi (ancient _Brundusium_) was, if I remember
rightly, the birth-place of Virgil. It is a sea-port and fortified town
45 miles from Taranto. In ancient times it was one of the most important
cities of Calabria. It is said by Strabo to have been governed by its
own kings at the time of the foundation of Tarentum. It was one of the
chief cities of the Sallentines, and the excellence of its port and
commanding situation in the Adriatic were among the chief inducements
of the Romans to attack them. The Romans made it a naval station, and
frequently directed their operations from it. It was the scene of
important operations in the war between Cæsar and Pompey. On the fall of
the Western Empire it declined in importance. In the eleventh century
it fell into the possession of the Normans, and became one of the chief
ports of embarkation for the Crusades. Its importance as a sea-port
was subsequently completely lost, and its harbour blocked. In 1870 the
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company put on a weekly line
of steamers between Brindisi and Alexandria for the conveyance of Her
Majesty’s eastern mails, and at the same time made it a post of transit
for goods brought from India by these steamers to be forwarded to the
north of Italy by rail. From this cause the imports of Brindisi have
suddenly risen in importance.

About 12 mid-day on the 21st November, we got under way with 110
first-class passengers on board, the weather was fine, much warmer than
in Turin and Milan, and the sea smooth, which I was thankful for; 22nd
the same; 23rd fine and sea smooth until about 4 p.m., when the sea
became rough, and I very uncomfortable, undesirous of dinner and very
desirous of being quietly settled in my berth, which I sought without
loss of time, knowing by a past bitter and sour experience that I should
ere long present a pitiable spectacle. During the night the sea became
so rough that the port-holes of the cabins had to be closed, so that in
addition to feeling excessively sick I was almost suffocated, as the
weather was very warm. On the morning of the 24th, at 10 o’clock, we
landed at the far-famed city of Alexandria.

Even in sunny Italy I had felt the weather, in the neighbourhood of
Turin, Milan, and Bologna, cold and frosty enough in the morning for an
overcoat. At Brindisi it was not so cold, but as we neared the African
coast the sky grew warmer and warmer, and tinged, so to speak, with a
reflection of the Libyan desert, a soft purple hue, rather than the deep
blue of Italy. Only those who have witnessed sunset in Africa can form
any conception of the beautiful tints reflected from the rocks and sands;
there you see the soft purple, lovely crimson, pale gold, rose and violet
colours all shading off into one another in the most charming manner. I
have never seen anywhere such glorious sunsets as in Africa.

Having but a short time to stay in Alexandria, I made good use of it in
exploring the place. Through what strange vicissitudes has this ancient
city passed. Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great, B.C. 332, on
the site of a village called Rakôtis, or Racoudah. Its founder wished to
make it the centre of commerce between the east and west, and we know how
fully his aspirations have been realized. It stood a little to the south
of the present town, was 15 miles in circumference, and had a population
of 300,000 free inhabitants, and at least an equal number of slaves. So
distinguished was it for its magnificence, that the Romans ranked it next
to their own capital, and when captured by Amru, general of the Caliph
Omar (A.D. 641), it contained 4,000 palaces, 4,000 baths, 400 theatres
or places of amusement, 12,000 shops for the sale of vegetables, and
40,000 tributary Jews. But we are getting on a little too fast. As I
said before, it was founded B.C. 332, by Alexander the Great, who is
said to have traced the plan of the new city himself, and his architect,
Dinarchus or Dinocrates (the builder of the temple of Diana at Ephesus)
directed its execution. The city was regularly built, and traversed by
two principal streets, each 100 feet wide, and one of them four miles
long. Campbell says: “He designed the shape of the whole after that of a
Macedonian cloak, and his soldiers strewed meal to mark the line where
its walls were to rise. These, when finished, enclosed a compass of 80
furlongs filled with comfortable abodes, and interspersed with palaces,
temples, and obelisks of marble porphyry, that fatigued the eye with
admiration. The main streets crossed each other at right angles, from
wall to wall, with beautiful breadth, and to the length (if it may be
credited) of nearly nine miles. At their extremities the gates looked out
on the gilded barges of the Nile, of fleets at sea under full sail, on a
harbour that sheltered navies, and on a lighthouse that was the mariner’s
star and the wonder of the world.”

One-fourth of the area upon which it was built was covered with temples,
palaces, and public buildings. Conspicuous upon its little isle was the
famous lighthouse of Pharos, the islet being connected with the city by
a mole. Under the Cæsars, Alexandria attained extraordinary prosperity;
large merchant fleets carried on a reciprocal commerce with India and
Ethiopia, and its industrial population were chiefly employed in the
weaving of linen, and the manufacture of glass and papyrus.

The Alexandrians were turbulent, and several times revolted under the
Ptolemies and the Romans. Cæsar was obliged, in B.C. 47, to put down
a terrible insurrection in this city. Under the emperors, Alexandria
suffered a series of massacres, which gradually depopulated it. In 611,
Chosroës, King of Persia, seized it, but his son restored it to the
emperors. In 641, Amru—whom I spoke of just now—took it by storm, after
a siege of 14 months, and a loss of 23,000 men. The Turks captured it in
868 and 1517.

So from time to time Alexandria has been the scene of the greatest
splendour, adorned by marble palaces, temples, and obelisks, also of
great squalor, and covered with mud huts; passing under the sway of
Persian, Greek, Roman, and Turk, and at the time I am writing this
(March, 1884) I think I may safely say under the _sway_ of Great Britain,
although not belonging to this country.

In the early part of this century, under the vigorous, but most
unscrupulous, rule of Mehemet Ali (who was appointed Pasha of Alexandria,
and afterwards of all Egypt), Alexandria became again a thriving and
important place.

It is said that in the character of the population, at least, there
still remains a strong resemblance to the ancient city of the
Ptolemies. Sullen-looking Copts replace the exclusive old Egyptians,
their reputed ancestors. Greeks and Jews, too, swarm as before, both
possibly changed a little for the worse. The mass of Levantines and
(with, of course, honourable exceptions) Franks, who make up the sum of
the population, may, I think, without any exaggeration, be designated
as the off-scourings of their respective countries. The streets swarm
with Turks in many-coloured robes, half-naked, brown-skinned Arabs,
glossy negroes in loose white dresses and vermilion turbans, sordid,
shabby-looking Israelites in greasy black, smart, jaunty, rakish Greeks,
heavy-browed Armenians, unkempt, unmasked Maltese ragamuffins, Albanians
and Europeans of every shade of respectability, from lordly consuls down
to refugee quacks, swindlers, and criminals, who here get whitewashed and
established anew. Here you see a Frank lady in the last Parisian bonnet,
there Egyptian women enveloped to the eyes in shapeless black wrappers,
while dirty Christian monks, sallow Moslem dervishes, sore-eyed beggars,
and naked children covered with flies, present a shifting and everlasting
kaleidoscope of the most undignified phases of Eastern and Western
existence.

The great square, or Grande Place, is the chief place of business and
resort. It is a quarter of a mile long, and 150 feet wide, paved on each
side, with a railed garden in the centre, planted with lime-trees, and
having a fountain at each end. Here are the principal shops and hotels,
the English consulate and church, banks, offices of companies, &c. The
buildings are all in the Italian style, spacious and handsome, or,
rather, were when I visited it. Most of the ancient landmarks are fast
disappearing. The site of Cleopatra’s Palace is now occupied by a railway
station for the line to Ramleh, seven miles distant, overlooking the
bay of Abaukir, the scene of Nelson’s victory over the French fleet in
1798. Of course, I could not be in Alexandria without paying a visit to
Pompey’s pillar, or, more properly, Diocletian’s pillar. It is a grand
column, and occupies an eminence 1,800 feet to the south of the present
walls; its total height is 98 feet 9 inches. It is a single block of red
granite on the mounds overlooking the lake Mareotis and the modern city.

An account of the ancient and modern history of Alexandria would fill a
volume of the most stirring interest. I, however, will be content with
giving to my readers a very small portion of a volume on Alexandria, as I
shall have a good deal yet to say on Cairo and neighbourhood, and still
more to say on the Soudan.

It was to Alexandria that science, fostered by the munificence of the
Ptolemies, retired from her ancient seat at Heliopolis. “The sages of the
Museum, who lodged in that part of the palace of the Lagides, might there
be said to live as the priests of the Muses, taking the word in its wide
sense, as the patronesses of knowledge. They had gardens, and alleys,
and galleries where they walked and conversed, a common hall where they
made their repasts, and public rooms where they gave instruction to the
youth who crowded from all parts of the world to hear their lectures.”
This museum, a unique establishment in literary history, was founded
by Ptolemy Soter, King of Egypt, who died B.C. 283, and was greatly
enlarged by his son Ptolemy Philadelphus and the succeeding Ptolemies.
In connection with the museum was the Alexandrian Library, the most
famous and the largest collections of books in the world, and the glory
of Alexandria. Demetrius Phalereus, after his banishment from Athens, is
said to have been its first superintendent, when the number of volumes,
or rolls, amounted to 50,000.

If the other Ptolemies were as unscrupulous in obtaining books as
Energetes is said to have been, it is no wonder that the library
increased in magnitude or value. We are told that he refused to sell
corn to the Athenians during a famine unless he received in pledge the
original manuscripts of Aschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. These were
carefully copied, and the copies returned to the owners, while the
King retained the originals. Various accounts are given of the number
of books contained in the library at its most flourishing period, when
Zenodotus, Callimachus, the poet Eratosthenes, of Cyrene, and Appolinius
Rhodius were its librarians. Seneca states the number at 400,000; Aulus
Gellius makes it 700,000. Some reconcile the discrepancy by making the
statements refer to different periods, while others believe that the
larger figure includes more than one collection. That there were more
than one collection is known. The original, or Alexandrian library _par
excellence_, was situated in the _Brucheion_, a quarter of the city
in which the royal palace stood; and besides this there was a large
collection in the Serapeion, or temple of Jupiter Serapis, but when or by
whom this was founded we do not know. The former was accidentally burned
during the Julius Cæsar’s siege of the city, but was replaced by the
library of Pergamus, which was sent by Antony as a present to Cleopatra.
The Serapeion library, which probably included the Pergamean collection,
existed to the time of the Emperor Theodosius the Great. At the general
destruction of the heathen temples, which took place under this emperor,
the splendid temple of Jupiter Serapis was set upon and gutted (A.D. 391)
by a fanatical crowd of Christians at the instigation of the Archbishop
Theophilus, when its literary treasures were destroyed or scattered. The
historian Orosius relates that in the beginning of the fifth century only
the empty shelves were to be seen.

A valuable collection was again accumulated in Alexandria, but was doomed
to suffer the same fate, being burned by the Arabs when they captured
the city under the Caliph Omar in 641. Amru, the captain of the Caliph’s
army, would have been willing to spare the library, but the fanatical
Omar disposed of the matter in the famous words:—“If these writings of
the Greeks agree with the Koran, there could be no need of them; if
they disagree, they are pernicious, and ought to be destroyed;” and they
were accordingly used for heating the 4,000 baths in the city. Just
before the time of Mehemet Ali, Alexandria was a miserable place of a few
thousand inhabitants, cut off from the valley of the Nile by the ruin of
the ancient canal. Under his rule it greatly revived in political and
commercial importance, and the re-opening of its canal has restored to
its harbour all the trade of Egypt.

The principal articles of export are cotton, beans, peas, rice, wheat,
barley, gums, flax, hides, lentils, linseed, mother-of-pearl, sesamum,
senna, ostrich feathers, &c.

Those who are not given to pedestrian exercise can easily avail
themselves of a cab or donkey, and they will find the streets, which are
spacious and handsome, very pleasant to traverse, as they are all well
paved in the city; but the dust outside the walls covers the ground from
four to six inches deep, and in combination with the intense glare of the
sun, and the wretched hovels of the natives, produces the ophthalmia so
common, especially among the Arabs. Owing to the want of proper drainage,
what would otherwise be a salubrious site is subject to malarious disease
and the plague.

I have spoken of the Alexandrian library; quite as much may be said of
the Alexandrian school; combined, they may be justly considered the first
academy of arts and sciences.

The grammarians and poets are the most important among the scholars
of Alexandria. These grammarians were philologists and literati, who
explained things as well as words, and may be considered a sort of
encyclopedists. Such were Zenodotus the Ephesian, who established
the first grammar school in Alexandria; Eratosthenes, of Cyrene;
Aristophanes, of Byzantium; Aristarchus, of Samothrace; Crates, of
Mallus; Dionysius the Thracian; Appolonius the sophist; and Zoilus. To
the poets belong Appolonius the Rhodian, Lycophron, Aratus, Nicander,
Emphorion, Callimachus, Theocritus, Philetas, Phanocles, Timon the
Philasian, Scymnus, Dionysius, and seven tragic poets, who were called
_Alexandrian Pleiads_.

The most violent religious controversies disturbed the Alexandrian church
until the orthodox tenets were established in it by Athanasius, in the
controversy with the Arians.

Among the scholars are to be found great mathematicians, as Euclid, the
father of scientific geometry, and whose work, I distinctly recollect,
was a great bore to me in my younger days; Appolonius, of Perga, in
Pamphylia, whose work on conic sections still exists; Nichomachus, the
first scientific arithmetician; astronomers, who employed the Egyptian
hieroglyphics for marking the northern hemisphere, and fixed the images
and names (still in use) of the Constellations, who left astronomical
writings (_e.g._, the _Phœnomena_ of Aratus, a didactic poem; the
_Spherica_ of Menelaus; the anatomical works of Eratosthenes, and
especially the _Magna Syntaxis_ of the geographer Ptolemy), and made
improvements in the theory of the calendar, which were afterwards adopted
into the Julian calendar; natural philosophers, anatomists, as Herophilus
and Erasistratus; physicians and surgeons, as Demosthenes Philalethes,
who wrote the first work on diseases of the eye; Zopyrus and Cratenas,
who improved the art of pharmacy and invented antidotes; instructors
in the art of medicine, to whom Asclepiades, Loranus, and Galen owed
their education; medical theorists and empirics, of the sect founded by
Philinus. All these belonged to the numerous association of scholars
continuing under the Roman dominion and favoured by the Roman emperors,
which rendered Alexandria one of the most renowned and influential seats
of science in antiquity. With this passing glance at Alexandria, we will
journey on to Cairo.



CHAPTER IV.

    THE FERTILIZING RIVERS OF EGYPT—LEAVE ALEXANDRIA—INCIDENTS EN
    ROUTE—SHEPHEARD’S HOTEL—ANCIENT AND MODERN CAIRO—THE DONKEY
    BOYS—ARAB PATIENTS—DANCING DERVISHES—THE HOUSE WHERE JOSEPH,
    MARY, AND THE INFANT SAVIOUR LIVED IN OLD CAIRO—THE BAULAC
    MUSEUM—THE PETRIFIED FOREST—MOKATTAM HILLS—TOMBS OF THE CALIPHS
    AND CITADEL—CAIRO AT SUNSET.


In former times, before the introduction of railways, the traveller
to Cairo had to go by canal, hire a boat, servant; procure a carpet,
mattress, and bedding; lay in a store of provisions, and a variety of
minor articles that would fill a page or two to mention. Now we can go
comfortably by rail in a few hours, the distance being something like 120
miles, I think.

We pass, _en route_, Lake Mareotis and the Mohmoudieh Canal, cultivated
land near Alexandria, then a good deal uncultivated and desert; but as we
approach Cairo, we see large tracts of cultivated land, all accomplished
by irrigation, and I am told that as much as two or three crops in the
year can be obtained off these lands without very great labour. A hot
sun can always be depended on. The agricultural labourer has not to go
through the laborious work of ploughing and manuring as in England.
All he has to do is to scratch the ground, and put in the seed in the
fertilizing alluvium which has been brought down from the rich lands of
Meroe and portions of Abyssinia by the Athara river and its tributaries,
the Salaam, Augrab, and the greater stream, Tacazze or Settite. All these
rivers cut through a large area of deep soil, through which, in the
course of ages, they have excavated valleys of great depth, and in some
places of more than two miles in width. The contents of these enormous
cuttings have been delivered upon the low lands of Egypt at the period of
the inundations. The Athara is the greatest mud-carrier, then the Blue
Nile, which effects a junction with the White Nile at Khartoum.

The White Nile is of lacustrine origin, and conveys no mud, but an excess
of vegetable matter, suspended in the finest particles, and exhibiting
beneath the microscope minute globules of green matter, which have the
appearance of germs. When the two rivers meet at the Khartoum junction,
the water of the Blue Nile, which contains lime, appears to coagulate the
alluminous matter in that of the White Nile, which is then precipitated,
and forms a deposit; after which the true Nile, formed by a combination
of the two rivers, becomes wholesome, and remains comparatively clear,
until it meets the muddy Athara. The Sobat river is a most important
tributary, supposed to have its sources in the southern portion of the
Galla country.

For the foregoing information on these rivers I am indebted to an
article of Sir Samuel Baker’s, which I read with great interest in the
_Contemporary Review_; and I daresay many of my readers will thank me for
reproducing it.

After this slight digression, I will continue my journey to Cairo. At
the stations were numbers of women and children with refreshments for
the traveller in this land, where the sun always shines with a burning
heat; women with goolehs of water to sell; children naked, or nearly so,
with sugar-cane, melons, oranges, dates, fresh sugar-cane, figs, &c. Vast
numbers of these poor creatures were afflicted with ophthalmia, their
eyelids covered with flies, which they take no notice of whatever, many
of them blind, or partially so, blind beggars; one and all, whether they
can sell anything or not, continually uttering the cry of “Backsheesh,
backsheesh, howaga,” which comes faintly on my ears as the train leaves
the station. As we journey on there is much to be noticed. Now we pass
a camp of Bedouins in the desert; next a large grove of date-palms (the
owner of which has to pay a tax on every tree). Here the domestic buffalo
walks round and round a circle; he is working the sakia or water-wheel,
which winds up the water for irrigation. This is also taxed. Scattered
all over the country are innumerable shadoofs, another mode, and the most
ancient, of obtaining water; there the stately-looking camel strides
along, looking intensely unconcerned. Trotting past him on his little
donkey is an Arab in loose, white, flowing robes, and turbaned head. At
one time we pass squalid, wretched-looking mud-huts; anon Nubians, as
black as coal, working in the fields. We arrived at Cairo in the evening
about seven, and were at once driven off to the well-knewn Shepheard’s
Hotel. The _cuisine_ is all that could be desired, and every attention
is paid to insure the comfort of visitors. Mr. Grose, the manager, is a
particularly obliging and attentive gentleman.

Cairo (in Arabic, _Kahira_, which signifies _victorious_) is the capital
city of Egypt. It lies on the east bank of the Nile, in a sandy plain,
and contains old Cairo, Boulac (_the harbour_), and new Cairo, which are,
to a considerable degree, distinct from each other. The city itself,
separate from the gardens and plantations which surround it, is about
10 miles in circuit, has 31 gates, and 240 irregular unpaved streets,
which during the night are, or were, closed at the end of the quarter, to
prevent disturbances. The houses are for the most part built of brick,
with flat roofs, and the interior of many of them is very sumptuous.
The chief square of Cairo, El-Esbekiah, has a magnificent area, the
centre of which is laid out as a garden, and is annually inundated by
the overflowing of the Nile. It is surrounded by the finest palaces.
There is in it a monument to General Kleber. The inhabitants of the
city and suburbs, in 1871 353,851, are Arabs or Mahomedans, Coptish
Christians, Mamelukes, Greeks, Syrians, Armenians, Jews, and natives
of various countries of Europe. The castle, or citadel, situated on a
rock, containing Joseph’s Well, 276 feet deep, is the residence of the
Pasha. There are 80 public baths, 400 mosques, two Greek, 12 Coptish,
one Armenian, and one English church, 36 synagogues, and many silk,
camlet, tapestry, gunpowder, leather, linen, and cotton factories.
Among the mosques, which, though many of them are in ruins, form the
most conspicuous edifices of the city, the most remarkable is that of
Sultan Hassan, which is built of blocks of polished marble, obtained from
the outer casing of the pyramids, or pyramid rather, for, if my memory
serves me right, they are from the great pyramid of Cheops at Gizeh.
It has a beautifully ornamented porch, richly corniced walls, and many
tall minarets. Here is also a Mahomedan high school, a printing office
and 25,000 volumes. The largest convent of dervishes is at Cairo. It was
built in 1174. The traffic of Cairo is very great, since it is the centre
of communication between Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, and the
North of Africa, and is upon the railway from Alexandria to Suez. The
principal bazaars are the Ghoreah and Khan Khalel. Goods are disposed
of there by public auction, and the different bazaars exhibit different
kinds of merchandise. Ibrahim Pasha commenced a public library in 1830,
and in 1842 a European Society, called the Egyptian Literary Association,
was established. Mehemet Ali introduced schools for elementary education,
and the Church of England Missionary Society has two schools.

Cairo was founded by Jauhar, general of the Caliph Moez, in the year of
the Hegira 368, or A.D. 969, on the site of the Egyptian Babylon. Moez
afterwards made it his capital, which distinction it retained until the
overthrow of the Mamelukes by Sultan Selim in 1517. Saladin extended
and fortified it in 1176. It was repeatedly attacked by the Crusaders,
particularly by St. Louis in 1249. It was occupied by the French from
1798 to 1801, when it was recovered by the Turks with the assistance of
the English. A great fire occurred there in February, 1863; advantage was
taken of it to improve the town.

Our military occupation of Egypt (or shall I say that it is simply a
“measure of police?”), and events that are now transpiring there, are a
sufficient excuse (if one were required) for dealing shortly with the
ancient history of Cairo and the neighbourhood.

Soon after our arrival at Shepheard’s Hotel, when we had restored
ourselves to our personal comfort, our host provided us with a good
dinner, to which we did ample justice, and as the weather (although the
end of November) was like a summer’s evening in England, we enjoyed the
usual after-dinner cigarettes in the balcony, which is a very pleasant
lounge, even in the day time, as it is quite sheltered from the blazing
sun. I soon strolled off to bed with the idea of obtaining a good
night’s rest, so that I should awake refreshed and fit for a pilgrimage
to the various shrines of intense interest with which Cairo and its
neighbourhood abounds. I have visited and seen all that was interesting
in Rome, once the mistress of the world—Corinth, once the seat of
learning and the abode of a most polished people; Ephesus; have stood
on the ancient Acropolis of Athens, the plains of Troy, celebrated by
Virgil; explored Misenum, Pateoli, Baiæ, Pompeii, and Herculaneum, all
rich in historical associations; but compared with the remains of ancient
cities near Cairo these places were of yesterday’s growth, and were not
even thought of until ages after the glory and high civilization of the
people in the land of the Pharaohs had passed away. When Abraham entered
the Delta from Canaan with his countrymen, moving about in tents and
waggons, the Egyptians were living in cities enjoying all the advantages
of a settled government and established laws; had already cultivated
agriculture, parcelled out their valley into farms, and reverenced a
landmark as a god.

While Abraham knew of no property but herds and movables, they had
invented records and wrote their kings’ names and actions on the massive
temples which they raised. They had invented hieroglyphics and improved
them into syllabic writing, and almost into an alphabet. The history
of Greece _begins_ with the Trojan war, but _before_ the time of David
and _before_ the time of the Trojan war, the power and glory of Thebes
had already passed away. About 1,000 years B.C. Shishak the conqueror
of Rehoboam, son of Solomon, governed all Egypt; at his death it was
torn to pieces by civil wars. After a time the kings of Ethiopia reigned
in Thebes, and helped the Israelites to fight against their Assyrian
masters. This unsettled state of things lasted nearly 300 years, during
which, as the Prophet Isaiah foretold, “Egyptians fought against
Egyptians, brother against brother, city against city, and kingdom
against kingdom.” At last the city of Sais put an end to this state
of things and under the Sais kings Egypt enjoyed again a high degree
of prosperity. They were more despotic than the kings of Thebes, and
struggled with the Babylonians for the dominion of Judæa.

Probably many of my readers are aware that M. Ferdinand de Lesseps was
not the originator of a canal to the Red Sea, for Pharaoh Necho, one of
the Sais kings, began it from the Nile. His sailors, circumnavigated
Africa; he conquered Jerusalem, and when the Chaldees afterwards drove
back the Egyptian army the remnant of Judah, with the Prophet Jeremiah,
retreated into Egypt to seek a refuge with King Hophra.

523 B.C. the Persians became masters of Egypt, and behaved with great
tyranny. Cambyses plundered the tombs and temples, broke the statues,
and scourged the priests. They ruled for 200 years; then the Greeks,
B.C. 332, the Romans, B.C. 30, and on the division of the Roman Empire,
A.D. 337, Egypt fell to the lot of Constantinople. In A.D. 640, just 670
years after the Roman conquest, Egypt was conquered by the followers
of Mahomet, and now, in this year of grace, A.D. 1884, we are rather
upsetting the late order of things, but whether for good or evil time
will show.

In this age of progress, it may seem strange to say so, but Egyptian
landlords had much the same tastes 3,000 years ago as English landlords
have now. They were much addicted to field-sports. Not only does history
tell us so, but I have seen often in their sculptures and paintings that
this was so. Even on the tomb and chapel of King Phty at Sakkara, which
is said to be over 5,000 years old, I saw scenes of fowling, fishing,
hunting, running down the gazelle, spearing the hippopotamus, of coursing
and netting hares, of shooting wild cattle with arrows, and catching them
with the lasso. They had fish ponds, game preserves, and game laws, they
were fond of horses and dogs, kept good tables, gave morning and evening
parties, amused themselves with games of skill and chance, were proud of
their ancestors, built fine houses and furnished them handsomely, and
paid great attention to horticulture and arboriculture.

This certainly reads like contemporary history; but I will go further.
To use a well-known expression, “would you be surprised to hear” that
the tenants paid the same proportionate rent as the British farmer of
to-day? The average gross produce of a farm here was £8 an acre, average
rent about 32s. an acre—just one-fifth—the exact rent paid by the tenants
of Potiphar, Captain of the Guard, and of Potipherah, Priest of On,
Joseph’s father-in-law, and the same was paid to Pharaoh himself by
his tenants. At that time the whole acreage of the country was divided
into rectangular estates. One-third belonged to the king, two-thirds in
equal proportions to the priestly and military castes; and these were
cultivated by another order of men, who, for the use of the land, paid
rent—one-fifth of the gross produce—to the owner.

Altogether I spent nearly a fortnight in Cairo, and feeling a great
interest in the historical associations of this ancient place and the
neighbourhood, I resolved to see and learn as much as I could of them
during my short stay. In the morning, after early breakfast, I amused
myself for a short time by sitting in the shade of the extensive balcony
in front of Shepheard’s Hotel, which overlooks the street, and is
contiguous to it. The scene which presented itself to my gaze was truly
Oriental in character. Now I see a few camels stalking silently, slowly,
and sedately on, variously laden—some with baskets of large stones for
building purposes, others with long pieces of timber on each side, others
with skins of water and so on; then an Arab lady on donkey-back, riding
after the manner of men, and covered from head to foot in unsightly black
wrappers, having just a slit in them, through which can be seen a large
pair of lustrous dark eyes, and down the bridge of her nose are some
brass-looking ornaments, resembling as much as anything a row of thimbles
inserted in one another. A Turkish lady’s dress and yashmack (covering
worn over the face) is much more becoming, and her nose is not ornamented
by the addition of the thimble arrangement. The Turkish ladies wear (in
Constantinople) quite a thin white muslin yashmack over their faces. This
does not conceal very much of the features, which, as a rule, are very
beautiful. The Egyptian ladies wear a black yashmack, which conceals
all except the eyes. Report says they are ugly; if so, they are quite
right to do so. Next I see a carriage driven along preceded by two sais,
or runners, to clear the way, and it is surprising what a pace they go
at with a long, swinging trot. They are picturesquely and gorgeously
dressed, each bearing a long wand, and wearing a tarboosh (Turkish fez),
the long thick blue tassel of which floats gracefully over the shoulders,
and not at all unlike what some of the ladies in Athens wear, except that
their tassels are black. Then we see blind, or partially blind, beggars,
of whom there are vast numbers, Coptic and Mahomedan women and children,
girls with baskets of flowers and lovely roses, sweet-meat, fly-whisp,
water, and fruit-sellers, conjurers, snake-charmers, one and all
soliciting “backsheesh,” dusky, brown-skinned Arabs clad in loose-flowing
robes and white turbans, coal-black Nubians, Jews, Greeks, Armenians,
and Europeans of all shades of colour, religion, and politics. Here, in
fact, in this city of Saladin and of the “Arabian Nights Entertainments”
creations (which once seemed to be so fanciful and visionary) kindle into
life and reality as I look upon everything around me.

The apartments of an Arab house of the well-to-do are decorated with
Arabesque lattices, instead of glass windows. Inside are luxurious divans
heaped with soft cushions, instead of sofas and chairs; and instead
of the rattling of cabs, carts, and tramcars we hear the wild, shrill,
trilling note of the Arabian women indicating some occasion of joy or
sorrow, or hear the equally peculiar long drawn-out note of the muezzin
from some minaret calling the faithful to prayer.

Very near to our hotel, on the opposite side, are always to be found a
number of donkeys ready for hire, and very good little donkeys they are.
I can see the head, legs, and tail of a donkey; the remaining portion of
him is almost concealed by a great padded saddle, to which is attached a
very inconvenient pair of stirrups, into which you _may_ get the tips of
your toes, and sometimes a portion of the foot, but if the foot is not
small, or is so unfortunate as to possess a respectably-sized bunion,
you must be content if you can get the tips of your toes only in the
stirrup; this, again, slips down to the right or left, according as you
put more pressure on one side or the other. There are no girths, but one
long strap placed around the saddle and donkey very insecurely fixes the
former. If my reader has not been accustomed to circus-riding, I assure
him he would experience some difficulty at first in exhibiting his powers
of equitation before the Egyptian public under these circumstances, and
I have seen more than one individual come into ignominious contact with
mother earth; fortunately he has not far to go ere he humbles and tumbles
himself in the dust.

My first experience was this: as soon as I was seated and had rammed
the tip of my boot into the stirrup, the donkey-boy shouts, “Ha—ha.”
This warning note the donkey knows full well, and off he goes at a kind
of running trot, which is all right. Soon these ha-ha’s increase in
frequency, and ere long I can fancy myself a second Mezeppa. The imp
behind now accompanies his peculiar yell with a sharp prog of a pointed
stick, and the donkey takes a very pointed cognisance of it, for now
“He urges on his wild career.” In the wide, open streets this rapid
mode of progression has an exhilarating tendency, but in the narrow
streets of the bazaars unguarded human beings fly to the right of me,
unguarded human beings fly to the left of me, and imprecations, not
loud, but deep, in an unknown tongue, fall on my untutored ear as my
donkey indiscriminately cannons on to the unobservant. A few words about
these donkeys, and donkey-boys so called. Most of the latter are not
boys at all, but full-grown men, notwithstanding which they are always
called donkey-boys. These and their donkeys are quite an institution
in the East. The donkeys own all kinds of popular English names, and
of course (if the owner may be believed) are possessed of every good
quality. Most of the donkey-boys have picked up more or less English,
and in expatiating on the good qualities of their beasts are accustomed
to interlard their speech with the strong language of the West, and
you would be surprised to hear how promptly they will consign a fellow
donkey-boy to an inhospitable and much-warmer region than Cairo, and to
the care of a much blacker individual than themselves. The reader is here
called upon to exercise his or her imagination. I had myself derived
considerable amusement when watching an intending pilgrim securing one of
these donkeys. To be forewarned is to be forearmed; I flattered myself
that by making my selection sure before I got amongst them, my tactics
would be most successful, but as the sequel will show, I was grossly
deceived, having reckoned without my host, or hosts I ought to say.
First intending pilgrim. He descends the steps of Shepheard’s Hotel, and
moves towards the donkeys—a fatal movement. Instantly the air is thick
with donkeys and donkey-boys. The latter yell frantically a chorus of
praises concerning the useful quadrupeds, which are most adroitly and
with surprising dexterity brought one after the other under his very
nose, whilst the poor victim is jostled about in the most bewildering
and unpleasant manner. I have been both a spectator of and an actor in
this performance, and I can safely say the spectator derives by far the
greatest amusement.

I resolved to pay a visit to the bazaars and some of the mosques of note.
Having, as I thought, gained some experience by observing the misfortunes
of others, I executed a strategic movement which I fondly imagined would
turn out successful. I had, from a distance selected my donkey; then
cunningly walked up and down the pavement smoking a cigarette, apparently
with no object in view. Suddenly I darted on to the enemy, but alas! I
found myself in an absolute whirlwind of donkeys and their troublesome
two-legged attendants, who yelled into my ears and bumped me about until
I was quite unable to recognise the donkey I had selected. Beauties
were here represented, such as Mrs. Cornwallis West, and Mrs. Langtry;
national names, such as John Bull, and Yankee-doodle; mythical names,
such as Jim Crow and Billy Barlow. One donkey rejoiced in the name of
Dr. Tanner, another in that of Madame Rachel; others, again, had been
honoured with the names of statesmen, such as Prince Bismarck, John
Bright, Sir Stafford Northcote, Lord Randolph Churchill, Mr. Gladstone,
Mr. Parnell, Lord Beaconsfield, and others. “Dr. Tanner, he debbil to
go—he berry good donkey indeed, hakeem,” said the owner. However, I
declined him, as he was said to be a FAST one (excuse the joke), and as
this was entirely an Eastern question, I could not help thinking that
Lord Beaconsfield would certainly be the most likely to carry me safely
through. I therefore selected him, and had every reason to be satisfied
with him and his secretary, Lord Rowton _alias_ Ibrahim, the donkey-boy,
whom I employed on several subsequent occasions. He proved a very good
conductor, for he took me through the various bazaars, Tunis, Algiers,
Turkish, Persian, and Arab, &c., pointing out all places of note and
interest _en route_. Ibrahim soon got to know that I was a doctor, and so
indeed did all the attendant Arabs about the hotel. He, like hundreds of
his countrymen, suffered from ophthalmia, and when I was out with him he
said—

“Hakeem, what I do with my eyes? They very bad sometimes.”

“Oh!” said I, “you bring me a bottle to-morrow morning, and I will give
you something for them,” little thinking of the consequences. The lotion
did his eyes a great deal of good, and two days afterwards a great many
of his friends called, to all of whom I gave lotion. During my stay here,
and some months afterwards on returning from the Soudan, I was, every
morning, employed after breakfast at my medicine chest preparing eye
lotions for my Arab friends, invocations for the blessings of Allah being
my recompense. The poor fellows appeared to be grateful, and I dare say
it was genuine, not like a canting old Irish vagrant woman, who, if you
give a hunk of bread and cheese to, will exclaim—

“Thank yer honour kindly!” and as long as she is in hearing keep
muttering, “Och! sure now, there’s a kind jintleman for ye, me darlint.
Sure now he is intirely an illigant jintleman; only for him I would not
have a bite this morning, that’s sure for ye. May Heaven guide him and
the blessed Virgin protect him!” Then out of hearing it is, “Och! the
dirty spalpeen! What will I do wid this? May the curse of Cromwell light
on ye for a murthering Sassenach. What will I do honey? and I not had a
sup of gin this blessed day to keep the cowld out of me poor thrimbling
ould body!”

But I am digressing. One day I took a donkey ride to old Cairo, and with
others from the hotel visited the dancing dervishes, and the house said
to have been inhabited by our Saviour. Old Cairo is about two miles
distant from Grand Cairo. It was at old Cairo that the child Jesus,
with Joseph and Mary, lived for a time, having fled from the bloody,
persecuting Herod. The place said to have been His exile home is now a
small Greek church. The steps to the room are very much worn, but great
care is taken of every part of it; silver lamps, hung from the ceiling,
are burning night and day, and no one is allowed to enter without the
presence of a Greek priest. It certainly is not difficult to believe
that, considering the mild Syrian atmosphere, and the absence of rain,
the building may be much more than 1,800 years old.

The dancing dervishes next engaged our attention. When in Constantinople
I visited the dancing dervishes at Pera and the howling dervishes on
the other side of the Bosphorus at Scutari. The dancing dervishes wear
a dress of greyish material, which reaches a little below the knee,
and is confined by a girdle round the waist. When they spin round like
Teetotums this looks like an open umbrella. The head is covered by a
curious-looking, tall, conical felt hat without any brim.

The word itself, Dervish, or Dervise, is of Persian origin, and signifies
poor. It denotes the same amongst Mahomedans as _monk_ with Christians.
The observance of strict forms, fasting and acts of piety, give them a
character of sanctity amongst the people. They live partly together in
monasteries partly alone, and from their number the Imams (priests)
are generally chosen. Throughout Turkey they are freely received, even
at the tables of persons of the highest rank. Among the Hindus they
are called _fakirs_. There are throughout Asia multitudes of these
devotees, monastic and ascetic, not only among the Mahomedans, but
also among the followers of Brahma. There are no less than thirty-two
religious orders now existing in the Turkish Empire, many of whom are
scarcely known beyond its limits; but others, such as the Nakshbendies
and Mevlevies, are common in Persia and India. All these communities are
properly stationary, though some of them send out a portion of their
members to collect alms. The regularly itinerant dervishes in Turkey
are all foreigners or outcasts, who, though expelled from their orders
for misconduct, find their profession too agreeable and profitable to
be abandoned, and therefore set up for themselves, and, under colour of
sanctity, fleece honest people. All these orders, except the Nakshbendies
are considered as living in seclusion from the world; but that order
is composed entirely of persons who, without quitting the world, bind
themselves to a strict observance of certain forms of devotion, and
meet once a week to perform them together. Each order has its peculiar
statutes, exercises, and habits. Most of them impose a novitiate, the
length of which depends upon the spiritual state of the candidate, who
is sometimes kept for a whole year under this kind of discipline. In
the order of the Mevlevies, the novice perfects his spiritual knowledge
in the kitchen of the convent. The numerous orders of dervishes are all
divided into two great classes, the dancing and the howling dervishes.
The former are the Mevlevies, and are held in much higher estimation
than the other class, and are the wealthiest of all the religious bodies
of the Turkish Empire. Their principal monastery is at Konieh, but they
have another at Pera, a suburb of Constantinople, where they may be
seen engaged in their exercises every Wednesday and Thursday. These are
performed in a round chamber, in the centre of which sits their chief
or sheik, the hem of whose garment each dervish reverently kisses on
entering the chamber, after which they go and range themselves round
the chamber with their legs tucked under them. When all the dervishes
have entered and saluted the sheik, they all rise together and go in
procession three times round the room, the sheik at their head. Each time
they do obeisance to the empty seat of the sheik on coming to a certain
part of the room. The procession ended, the sheik again takes his place
in the centre, and all the others begin dancing round him, turning on
themselves at the same time that they move round the room. The arms are
extended, the palm of the right turned upward and the palm of the left
downward, to indicate that what they receive from heaven with the right
they give away to the poor with the left, while sounds of music are
heard from a neighbouring gallery. The movement at first is slow, but
as the dervishes become excited they become more animated, and revolve
so quickly that they look like tops spinning round; at last they sink
exhausted on the floor. After a while they renew their exertions, and
repeat it several times. The whole is concluded by a sermon.

The howling dervishes do not confine themselves in their exercises to
the dancing just described. They accompany them with loud vociferations
of the name of Allah, and violent contortions of the body such as are
seen in persons seized with epileptic fits. And even these extravagances
are not so bad as those which were formerly practised, when the
dervishes, after working themselves into a frenzy, used to cut and
torture themselves in various ways with apparent delight. The sheiks
of all orders have the credit of possessing miraculous powers. The
interpretation of dreams, the cure of diseases, and the removal of
barrenness, are the gifts for which the dervishes are most in repute. Had
I to live in such a hot climate as Cairo, I should feel thankful that our
religion does not necessitate such violent bodily exertion as that which
these dervishes indulge in. The road to old Cairo was very, very dusty,
and the weather excessively hot, as it always is in the day time. We left
the dancing dervishes after remaining about half-an-hour, and rode back
to our hotel in the afternoon too late for any further explorations that
day. On the following day I spent some hours in a very enjoyable and also
instructive manner, namely in inspecting the priceless articles in the
Baulac Museum. This museum, I suppose, contains some of the most ancient
things in this world, and I regret very much that I could not devote a
week to inspecting the contents of it instead of a few hours. I should
have seen the treasures contained here, and known very little concerning
them (as there was no catalogue), had I not been so fortunate as to get
into conversation with Brusch Bey, the curator, a most intelligent and
obliging gentleman, whose heart is enthusiastically in his work. He was
kind enough to spend about two or three hours with me and enlighten me
on very many things which would have been a sealed book to me but for
him. There lay before us one grand discovery of 32 kings and queens,
who had ruled Egypt in the dim distant ages long ago. The gilding on the
inner coffins was as perfect and untarnished as it was the week they
were executed, although thousands of years have rolled by since the
handy craftsman was engaged on them. They were covered with information
that none but an Egyptologist could decipher. In this museum was pointed
out to me a picture said to be the most ancient in the world, it was a
painted picture of Egyptian geese, as well done, I should imagine, as
any ordinary painter of the present day could do it. There were bronzes
and polished marble statuary as perfect in appearance as when they left
the workmen’s hands, and, as far as I could judge, as well finished as
they would be by workmen of the present day, although 2,000 or 3,000
years old. An ingenious and strong little cabinet engaged my attention
some time; the doors of hard wood were well carved and the joints as
exquisitely dove-tailed in as any man of the present day could make
them. In a glass case I saw basket-work, a chair, rope, twine, seals,
rings, javelins, slings, food and seeds as they were found in an ancient
tomb, the mason’s mallet cut out of a solid piece of wood, precisely the
same shape and size as those in use here at the present time, jewellery
well-finished and solid-looking, and many other things too numerous to
mention. On carefully examining this valuable and interesting collection,
some of which were 3,000, 4,000, or 5,000 years old, I could not help
thinking that they served well to illustrate the highly civilized
condition of the people at so remote a period.

To give details of all the interesting things in this museum would occupy
too much time to the exclusion of other matter, but there are two things
that call for notice on account of their very great antiquity. One is a
wooden statue, which has been carved out of a solid block of very hard
wood, and is that of a man about 5ft. 7in. in height. As one stands in
front of that wooden statue gazing for a short time, he almost appears
to be endowed with a soul and the power of speech, so excellent is the
execution of the figure, and so expressive the face; no one can doubt
for a moment that he was the creation of a high civilization. It was
found in a tomb at Sakhara and belongs to one of the early dynasties
of the old primæval monarchy, and is absolutely untarnished by the
thousands of years it has been reposing in that tomb; there is actually
no sign of decay. The antiquity of that statue astonishes me, and I
dare say it will my readers. Brusch Bey told me that it was supposed
to be 5,400 years old, and that probably it was older than that. The
other statue, that of Chephren, the builder of the second Pyramid, with
his name inscribed upon it, is in Diorite, one of the hardest kind of
stones, carefully executed and beautifully polished. These Egyptians were
evidently people of considerable forethought, and when they wanted their
names and deeds to live long after them engraved on tablets of stone,
they selected the most durable they could, and it is more than probable
that had they contemplated building such houses of Parliament as we have
built in London, they would have selected a hard, not a soft stone, that
continually requires patching up. Well, the features of Chephren’s statue
are uninjured, and Brusch Bey and I gazed on them just as they were seen
by Chephren and his court 5,000 years ago. It was discovered by Mariette
Bey, at the bottom of a well, which supplied the water used for sacred
purposes in the sepulchral temple attached to Chephren’s Pyramid. It was
no doubt originally erected in the temple, and was probably thrown into
the well by the barbarous Hyksos or iconoclastic Persians.

During the late military operations, or “police measures,” grave
apprehensions for the safety of the Baulac Museum arose, but fortunately
it escaped the violence of the mob. The greater part of one day was
occupied by a visit with my familiar Ibrahim to the mosques of note,
the citadel, tombs of the Caliphs and Mamelukes. Another day I got a
companion from the hotel to accompany me to the petrified forest, some
miles out in the desert. It covers an area of about 15 miles. All this
space is pretty thickly strewed over with what appears to be trunks and
branches of trees. I took hold of what appeared exactly like the wooden
branch of a tree, and so it had once been, but for ages it had lain here,
a solid piece of very hard stone. The place is an absolutely desolate one
in the desert, with not a sign of vegetation in sight. Whether these had
been washed here during the flood or had once grown in the neighbourhood
or not, or how they came there, I never could ascertain, although I have
sought for information on the subject in all directions. No one seems to
be able to tell me anything about the origin of this petrified forest,
and I have not hitherto found a book containing any allusion to it. We
returned to Cairo by the Mokhottam hills behind the citadel somewhat late
in the afternoon, consequently had to urge on our donkeys so that we
should see Cairo by sunset. We were here just in time to do so, as there
is scarcely any twilight in the East; the transition from day to night
does not occupy very many minutes. The picturesque panorama that opened
out to our view well repaid us for our trouble. There before and beneath
us lay Cairo with its innumerable mosques and minarets, the Nile with the
peculiar Nile boats called dahabeahs floating peacefully on its surface.
Here and there the stately camel strides silently on, veiled women and
turbaned Arabs in loose flowing robes, groves of palm trees, while nearer
to us we see the half-ruined tombs of the Caliphs and Mamelukes, the
citadel and the beautiful mosque of Mehemet Ali full of carved columns of
alabaster. To the late burning heat which we encountered in the desert
succeeds a soft, balmy, dry air, and the beautiful and varied hues of
the setting sun is reflected from the glittering mosques and minarets,
rocks and sands, presenting a picture which will not soon fade from my
memory, and which requires the poetry, eloquence, and pen of a Byron to
adequately describe. In striking contrast to the beautiful scene we had
just enjoyed was the wretched-looking houses of the Arabs, the squalor,
dirt and miserable pathways on the hill-side which we encountered
immediately afterwards as we pursued our homeward journey.



CHAPTER V.

    A YOUNG AMERICAN AT SHEPHEARD’S HOTEL—DRIVE TO THE PYRAMIDS
    OF GIZEH—ASCENT AND EXPLORATION OF THE PYRAMID OF CHEOPS—THE
    SPHINX.


We arrived at our hotel rather tired, and felt it quite a relief to
stretch our legs out straight after having them cramped up so long whilst
on our donkeys. Having partaken of a good dinner, I adjourned to the
balcony with a cigarette, sank into an easy lounge, and communed with
my own thoughts. I had not been here long before I discovered sitting
near me an individual, apparently about 23 years of age, whose nether
extremities rested on the back of a chair, his feet being parallel with
his chin. He was dressed in a somewhat _outré_ manner, the lower limbs
being encased in check prolongations; the body in a brown coat, something
like a sack in shape; the throat was surrounded by a loose, turn-down
collar, and loose neckerchief, whilst the summit of this curious
specimen of humanity was crowned by a huge felt hat, with an enormous
brim. The clouds of smoke which he emitted from his mouth rivalled a
young volcano; he was smoking a cigar, and did not forget to expectorate
in a most profuse and dangerous manner, so much so that, feeling in
somewhat dangerous proximity to the fire of his artillery, I got up with
the intention of escaping any little salivary accidents; but my silent
companion had his eye on me, and thus suddenly addressed me in the
decidedly nasal accent and twang peculiar to the inhabitants of America—

“Stranger, I guess this Cairo is a tarnation rummy place?”

Seeing no reason to dispute this by no means rash assertion, I readily
conceded the point; and, by way of carrying on the conversation, ventured
to remark that—

“It certainly is a very curious and interesting old place, and the
inhabitants no less so.”

_He_: “That’s so, sirree; they _are_ queer beggars, and so _are_ their
wimen.”

This also was an indisputable fact, and I acknowledged that they were a
strange race, strongly wedded to old customs, and as strongly opposed to
innovations.

_He_: “Stranger, yew don’t roost here, I guess?”

_I_: “No; I am just travelling for a few months, and shall leave Cairo in
two or three days’ time.”

_He_: “In what line may you be travelling, stranger?”

Now, of course I knew what he meant, but thought his remarks were so
original, not to say impertinent, that I must not omit this opportunity
of extracting some amusement, and provide material for my diary. I
therefore replied—

“Oh! I came by the P. and O. line to Alexandria, by rail here, and now my
lines have fallen in pleasant places.”

“Guess yew don’t quite fathom me. What’s yer business, and where are you
going tew?” said he.

I then gave him the names of a number of places in Egypt and the Soudan,
enumerating them as rapidly as I could, so that I am quite sure my nasal
friend was very little the wiser for the information.

He enshrouded himself in a huge cloud of smoke, vigorously expectorated
once more, and regarding me fixedly for a moment, exclaimed—

“By Jupiter! stranger, that’s a large order. Opening up a trade or
colon_ize_, I guess.”

I suppose, because I told him I was travelling with six other gentlemen,
he thought we were going to start a colony somewhere, and then annex
all the adjacent country, which, by the way, would certainly be a very
good thing for the Egyptians and the Soudanese, and very probably for
ourselves also. However, I gave him to understand that we were simply
travelling for pleasure, exploration, and sport. Notwithstanding this, my
Yankee acquaintance was determined to turn me inside out if he could; he,
therefore, was so complimentary as to say—

“Well, now, I guess you are a gentleman?”

To this I answered—

“Thanks; I trust your surmise is a correct one;” and I might have said,
but I did not, “Sorry I cannot return the compliment.”

I have often heard of the pertinacity of an American reporter, but it
appears to me that the bump of inquisitiveness is not by any means
confined to them, but pervades the whole community. There was no
shilly-shallying, no delicate, nicely-worded hints and adroitly-put
questions; but my interrogator was determined to find out all about me if
he could, and so he asked me how long I had been in Cairo, how old I was,
if I was married or single, how many children I had, if I lived on my
money, and lots of the most impertinent questions, and finally finished
up by saying, “Guess you are a Britisher?”

Having, as he thought, pumped me pretty considerably, he was good enough
to take me into his confidence, and tell me all about himself, and his
belongings, and “_hew_ his father had left him a pile,” adding, “Guess I
spend some, and move about a bit.” I could not help saying—

“I think you are wise to pursue that course; travel will improve you a
good deal, and, like the marble statuary in the Baulac Museum, it will
put on a little polish.”

He eulogised the States and the inhabitants thereof, and was apparently
under the impression that America was the only place worth speaking of,
winding up with the quite unnecessary announcement—

“I’m ’Merican.”

“Oh, yes,” I replied; “I knew at once you were an American.”

“Yes; is that so?” said he. “Hew did ye know that, stranger?”

“Well,” said I, “by your accent, the estimate you form of your country,
and, pardon me for saying so, but no one but an American would have asked
me such questions as you have, or manifested such a desire to find out
all about me and my affairs.”

He did not appear to be at all annoyed at this remark, but merely said—

“By thunder! stranger, you are a queer coon. Will you come and liquor?”

I declined with thanks, and left young America to ponder over the
inscrutable ways and manners of the “darned Britisher.” He was evidently
the offspring of a parent who, perchance, had “struck ile,” and had never
before forsaken his ancestral home in search of travel and adventure;
and, if such was the case, we must excuse the young man. As soon as I
left him I sought my bedroom, chronicled the above conversation in my
diary, and retired to bed, where I slept soundly.

The following day I and three others formed a party for a visit to the
far-famed pyramids of Gizeh. We chartered a carriage, taking our lunch
with us; and from the time we left Shepheard’s Hotel until we returned
that hateful word, “Backsheesh,” resounded in our ears; indeed, I should
say that there is no word in the Egyptian language so frequently on the
tip of an Arab tongue as that. I should suppose that the pyramids of
Gizeh are about ten miles from Cairo. There is a pretty good road, which
was constructed by the former Khedive, Ismail, specially to accommodate
the Prince of Wales when he visited the place some years ago. During
our drive we could almost have imagined that a line of sentries had
been posted all along the road specially to utter that horrid word,
“Backsheesh,” so continuously were our tympanums offended with it.
Arrived at the base of the Great Pyramid, we are immediately surrounded
by a considerable number of Arabs, who are all anxious to assist us
in the ascent, of course, for a small consideration; but one of our
party having been there once before, knew how to set about matters in a
business-like way, so he demanded at once the presence of the Pyramid
Sheik, who very soon came. We told him we did not want all this crowd
of Arabs, but two each would be sufficient. Accordingly he allotted us
these, but as he suggested that a third would be desirable to push us up
from behind, we had him. Those who have ascended the Great Pyramid are
not likely to forget the dusky demons who accompany them.

I commence the ascent with my body-guard, who appear now to look upon me
as a piece of brittle china, and are most anxious to prevent me using
my limbs in my own way—they will not let me take a step without their
assistance. Directly I had started I found my body-guard considerably
augmented, and notwithstanding repeated warnings that I did not want
them, and that they would not get any backsheesh, they stuck to me
all the way up and back. For the time being I belong solely to these
energetic, incessantly-chattering Arabs, whose most strenuous efforts
were now put forth to damaging my ball and socket joints.

I have to ascend 203 steps—the lower steps are about four feet high, and
few of them less than three feet anywhere. The two Arabs in front get on
to the step I have to land on; each seizes an arm, one gets behind, and
the hoisting process begins. The latter gives the cue, and with a loud
“Ha-hu,” up I go from one step to the other. This game goes on with great
rapidity, until I had got about half-way up, where I think it advisable
to rest awhile. So down I sat, but soon found that instead of three Arabs
I was at once surrounded by about a dozen, all talking most vehemently
to me at the same time. It was in vain to protest—all had curiosities,
scarabei, little images, and ancient coins, some of them curious, no
doubt dating back to the time of Adam. For a small consideration they
were all anxious to place these in my possession, and all were shouting
into my ear, “Autica efendi, autica.” At last, for peace sake, I bought
a small image of a defunct Pharaoh from one, and from another three or
four copper coins, all, of course, the only genuine. In vain I protested
against having any more. I had no peace until I had bought something from
each one; in fact, I had no quiet until I turned all my pockets inside
out, showing conclusively that I had spent every piaster with them.
After resting awhile, we continued the ascent, and after a succession of
ha-hus, tugs, and hoistings, I at last found myself on the summit of the
Great Pyramid, and well rewarded for the trouble I had taken.

Here, in this bright, clear atmosphere, I saw stretching out for miles
on the west the Libyan Desert, and reaching out before and around us in
vast extent the classic and historic hills, rivers, and plains of Ham and
Mizraim, Heliopolis, Memphis, Mount Mokattam, Sakhara, the beautiful city
of Cairo, with its numberless mosques and slender minarets, skirted by
the outstretched Nile, bearing on its placid bosom hundreds of dahabeahs,
and on its banks tall waving palm-trees. Nearer is the village of Gizeh,
and closer still the remaining pyramids of Gizeh, the granite temple,
and the sphinx, the whole forming a picture that cannot be effaced in a
life-time.

It is said with some truth, “Time tries all,” but I have also heard it
said that “the pyramids try time,” and, upon my word, it almost seems
so, when we think of their great antiquity. Here they have stood for
thousands of years in majestic grandeur, looking down on many Pharaohs
and many dynasties, and witnessing the rise, greatness, and decline of a
once mighty nation. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses have gazed
on these huge piles of masonry, which raised their lofty heads long, long
before Abraham in a day of famine sought bread at the hands of Pharaoh.

When I had spent some time in gazing again and again on this beautiful
scene, and thoroughly succeeded in obtaining a mental photograph of it, I
commenced the descent, and found I could get down much more comfortably
without assistance than with; but this the pertinacious Arabs would not
hear of, they said, on account of the danger to me. But my own private
opinion was that they wanted to earn good backsheesh by persistent
attention. I resigned myself to my fate, and at last reached the foot
of the pyramid by a series of jumps and bumps very trying to my spinal
column, and which joggled my internal economy most unpleasantly.

After a short rest, we explored the interior, a rather difficult
achievement in some parts. We had brought a good substantial luncheon
with us from the hotel, which we thankfully disposed of at a house, or
palace, near by. This was specially built, I believe, either for the
Prince of Wales or the Empress Eugenie, I really forget which. After
lunch we visited the sphinx, two or three tombs, and the other two
pyramids, settled up with the sheik, and drove off to our hotel; and
not until I reached the steps of the hotel did I hear the last of that
hateful word “Backsheesh.” When I retired to rest I dreamt of a pocketful
of large copper coins and scarabei, an armful of defunct Pharaohs, an
army of lithe, sinewy, swarthy, impecunious Arabs, amongst whom I had
scattered a ship-load of piasters, and “still they were not happy.”

Before I have done entirely with the pyramids, I think I ought to say
something about them, as those at Gizeh are the most remarkable. This
group consists of nine, and comprises three of the most remarkable
monuments in existence—those of Cheops, Cephren, and that of Mycerinus,
the last-named much smaller than the other two. Herodotus, who was born
about 500 B.C., tells us that in building the great pyramid of Cheops
it took 100,000 men working incessantly for 30 years to complete it;
10 years of this 30 was spent in making a causeway 3,000 feet long, to
facilitate the transportation of the stone from the Turah quarries.
Herodotus describes the method of building by steps, and raising the
stones from layer to layer by machines, and finally of facing the
external portion from the top down. Its present height is 460 feet, the
original height was 480 feet.

The extent of solid masonry has been estimated at 82,111,000 cubic feet.
It at present covers 12 acres. The only entrance is on the north face,
49 feet above the base, though the masonry has been so much broken away
that the _débris_ reaches nearly up to it. A passage, 3 feet 11 inches
high and 3 feet 5½ inches wide, conducts from the entrance down a slope
at an angle of 26° 41´, a distance of 320 feet 10 inches to the original
sepulchral chamber, commonly known as the subterraneous apartment; it
is carried, reduced in dimensions, beyond this a distance of 52 feet
9 inches into the rock, though for what purpose remains a matter of
conjecture. The sepulchral chamber is 46 feet long by 27 feet wide, and
11½ feet high. From the entrance passage another branches off and leads
to several other passages and chambers. One of the latter, known as the
_Queen’s Chamber_, is situated about the middle of the pyramid, 67 feet
above the base; it has a groined roof, and measures 17 feet broad by
18 feet 9 inches long and 20 feet 3 inches high. The other, called the
_King’s Chamber_, is reached by an offshoot from the Queen’s Passage, 150
feet long. Its dimensions are 34 feet 3 inches long by 17 feet 1 inch
wide, and 19 feet 1 inch high. The chamber is lined with red granite
highly polished, single stones reaching from the floor to the ceiling,
and the ceiling itself is formed of nine large slabs of polished granite
extending from wall to wall. The only contents of the apartment is a
sarcophagus of red granite, which, judging by its dimensions, must have
been introduced when the building was proceeding. It is supposed to have
contained a wooden coffin with the mummy of the king, and that these long
since disappeared when the pyramids were first opened and plundered. We
do not see these pyramids as they originally were. The outer casing of
polished stone has been removed and utilized in constructing the mosque
of Sultan Hassan. These pyramids were built between 5,000 and 6,000 years
ago. Great was the antiquity of Thebes before European history begins to
dawn. It was declining before the foundations of Rome were laid, but the
building of the great pyramids of Gizeh preceded the earliest history
of Thebes by 1,000 years. Whilst speaking of Thebes, I’ll just mention
that there are to be seen to-day the tomb of the great Sethos, Joseph’s
Pharaoh, of his greater son, Rameses II., and of Menophres or Meneptha,
in whose reign the Exodus took place. In the tomb of Sethos, coloured
sculptures cover 320 feet of the excavation. There is to be seen the
draughtsman’s handiwork in red colour, showing the designs that were to
be executed by the sculptor, and the corrections in black ink of the
superintendent of such works, and although these sketches were made 3,000
years ago, they are still quite clear and fresh-looking. On the east side
of the pyramid, half buried in sand, is the wonderful colossal Sphinx,
his head 25 feet high and back 100 feet long, all one stone.



CHAPTER VI.

    HELIOPOLIS—THE SHOUBRA
    ROAD—BEDROSKYN—MITRAHENNY—MEMPHIS—SAKHARA—APIS
    MAUSOLEUM—WORSHIP OF THE BULL APIS—TOMB OF KING PHTA—MEET THE
    KHEDIVE—ENGAGE SERVANTS FOR THE SOUDAN.


My next visit was to Heliopolis on donkey-back. I was told that it would
be a nice ride, but nothing to see except an obelisk when I got there.
Notwithstanding this, I felt very desirous of visiting this ancient seat
of learning, where Moses had lived and “become learned in all the wisdom
of the Egyptians.” Accordingly Ibrahim and I started off. Leaving the
citadel and tombs of the Caliphs on my right, I had a pleasant ride of
about two hours or so from Cairo through avenues of acacias and tamarisk
trees, a large plain covered with a luxuriant growth of sugar-cane,
citrons, lemons, oranges, ricinus, cactuses, olive trees and palms.
Before reaching the mounds of Heliopolis is a well of fine water on
the border of a grove of citrons and palms, and in the midst of these
is a venerable old sycamore enclosed by palisades and regarded with
veneration by the Copts, as the place where Joseph, Mary and the infant
Saviour rested on their flight into Egypt. Although a very aged tree,
it cannot be, of course, as old as the legend affirms. It is, however,
a very pretty spot, sheltered from the busy hum of life, embowered in
citron thickets, which resound with the music of birds, and with tall,
waving palm trees, on the trembling branches of which large vultures
rock to and fro. I approach the site of Heliopolis on a dead level, and
find that it stood formerly on an artificial elevation, overlooking
lakes which were fed by canals communicating with the Nile. With what
history does this place teem! Here, or in the vicinity, Jeremiah wrote
his Lamentations. Thales, Solon, Pythagoras and Plato studied here. From
the learned priests of Heliopolis, Plato—who studied here for several
years—is believed to have derived the doctrine of the immortality of the
soul and of a future state of rewards and punishments. This neighbourhood
was probably the scene of the Exodus of the Israelites, and here was
the most celebrated university in the world for philosophy and science.
It was here that Potipherah, the priest or Prince of On, resided. Here
Joseph married his daughter Asenath, who became the mother of Ephraim
and Manasseh. Now what do I see? This once famous city of the sun, the
Heliopolis of Herodotus and Strabo, the On of Joseph, the Bethshemesh of
Jeremiah, the university of the world at that time, with its collection
of colleges and temples, avenues of sphinxes and extensive dwellings of
the learned priests, dazzling palaces, obelisks and splendid edifices
has been almost blotted out, and as I stood there absorbed in thought,
and feebly endeavouring to picture to myself this place as it once
stood, teeming with life, wealth and power, those beautiful words of
Shakespeare, our immortal bard, came floating through my mind as very
descriptive of what I now saw—

    The cloud-capt towers,
    The gorgeous palaces,
    The solemn temples,
    The great globe itself,
    Yea, all which it inherit,
    Shall dissolve,
    And like the baseless fabric of a vision,
    Leave not a wreck behind.

All was now desolation, if I except the massive foundations of the Temple
of the Sun, which are still visible in a few places. The one solitary
object that serves to mark this once celebrated city is an obelisk of
solid granite, 62 feet high, the last monument of a temple that once
vied in magnificence with those of Karnak or Baalbeck, and which has
been pointing to the sky from the time of the old monarchy for more than
4,000 years. It bears the name of Osirtesen I. (Joseph’s contemporary),
the first great name in Theban history, builder of the older and smaller
part of the great temple of Karnak and King of Upper and Lower Egypt,
and probably where I then stood looking at, but unable to decipher the
hieroglyphics on this obelisk, Joseph and Moses (who had both been
admitted to the priest cast) had stood before me. _Sic transit gloria
mundi._

I had now seen all there was to see, and was pleased that I had made this
visit, so I mounted my donkey and got back to Cairo. It happened to be
Friday, the Mahomedan Sunday. On this day all the rank and fashion can be
seen between four and six driving up and down the Shoubra Road. This is
lined by a splendid avenue of trees, which meet over-head, thus forming
a delightful shade. It was now about 4 p.m.; I performed a hasty toilet
and set off for a carriage drive down this road. I found it thronged with
visitors and a goodly sprinkling of officers, amongst whom I saw the now
famous Arabi Pacha. Mounted sentries also were posted at intervals each
side of the road as the Khedive usually takes a drive there every Friday
about 4 or 5 p.m. I had not been there long ere he came sweeping down
with his escort.

Next day I devoted to exploring the ancient (probably the most ancient
city in the world), Memphis, the Noph of the Bible, and its necropolis,
Sakhara. According to Herodotus its foundation was ascribed to Menes, the
first King of Egypt. If this was so it would be about 6,000 years old,
and it is said that the art of building was known centuries before his
time.

It is quite a good day’s work to perform this journey in the blazing sun.
I get an early breakfast and leave at 7.30 on my donkey, accompanied by
Ibrahim on another donkey, in possession of my luncheon. The distance
to the railway station is about two miles. Here I procure tickets for
ourselves and the two donkeys, proceed to Bedrashyn, a distance of about
ten miles, then remount and pass through the village of Mitrahenny, then
a very fine palm-grove, on to the site of ancient Memphis, once a large,
rich, and splendid city, remarkable for its temples and palaces. As late
as 524 B.C., at the time of the conquest of Cambyses it was the chief
commercial centre of the country, and was connected by canals with the
Lakes Mœris and Mareotis. Some distance from the village of Mitrahenny I
saw near the pathway a colossal statue of Rameses the Great in excellent
preservation. It is composed of a single block of red granite, polished.
It was originally 50 feet in length, but has been mutilated, and now
does not measure more than 48 feet. It lies on its side in a pit by the
wayside, which, during the inundation of the Nile, is filled with water.
On its subsidence the alluvial deposit is scraped off sufficiently to
show the statue to travellers. Vast mounds of broken pottery and statuary
are to be seen about here and Sakhara, probably burying the ancient city.
Sakhara is about two miles or so from Memphis, and the greater part of
the ride lies through sandy desert. It lies, in fact, on the edge of the
Lybian Desert. It is remarkable for its ancient monuments, among which
are 30 pyramids. The great step pyramid is said to be even older than the
pyramids of Gizeh. Besides these 30 there are the ruins of a great many
others, and numberless grottoes, sarcophagi, the Ibis catacombs, and Apis
Mausoleum, which was discovered by Mariette Bey. He observed the head of
a sphinx protruding from the sand, and remembering that Strabo described
the Serapeum of Memphis as approached by an avenue of sphinxes, he at
once commenced his explorations in search of the temple in which Apis was
worshipped when alive and the tomb in which it was buried when dead. The
sand-drift, after immense exertions, was cleared away, and the avenue was
laid bare from a superincumbent mass, which was in some places 70 feet
deep. Conceive, if you can, the splendour of this imposing approach; no
less than 141 sphinxes were discovered _in situ_, besides the pedestals
of others. The temple to which they led has disappeared, but the tomb
remains.

I go down hill, nearly up to my knees in sand, with my guide. A great
door is unlocked and thrown open, we then light our candles and explore.
We proceed a considerable distance through a passage or tunnel, and
then find ourselves in a large vault or tunnel some 200 or 300 yards in
length. Chambers lead out of it on either side as large as an ordinary
sitting-room, and about 12 feet high, in each of which is a ponderous
granite sarcophagus, polished. Placed on the sarcophagus like a lid was a
granite slab of great size and weight, the whole weighing about 20 tons.
Near the subterranean cemetery of the bulls are the groves or pits of the
sacred Ibis also formerly worshipped. These are enclosed in earthenware
vases; the bones and broken urns now lie scattered all around. These huge
blocks of granite were actually transported from the quarries near Syene
to Memphis, a distance of nearly 600 miles! I carefully examined one
sarcophagus containing the embalmed dead deity. It was carved all over
with sacred hieroglyphics, sharp and clear in their outlines, and the
polish on the marble bright as it was 3,000 years ago. I saw between 30
and 40 of these sarcophagi here.

The worship of the bull Apis was celebrated with great pomp and
splendour, and he was regarded as the representative of Osiris.

His interment would cost as much as that of any king or conqueror. It
was necessary that he should be black with a triangle of white on the
forehead, a white spot in the form of a crescent on the right side,
and a sort of knot like a beetle under his tongue. When a bull of this
description was found he was fed four months, in a building facing the
east. At the new moon he was led to a splendid ship with great solemnity
and conveyed to Heliopolis, where he was fed 40 days more by priests and
women, who performed before him various indecent ceremonies. After this
no one was suffered to approach him. From Heliopolis the priests carried
him to Memphis, where he had a temple, two chapels to dwell in, and a
large court for exercise. He had a prophetic power which he imparted to
the children about him. The omen was good or bad according as he went
into one stable or the other. His birthday was celebrated every year
when the Nile began to rise; the festival continued seven days. A golden
patera was thrown into the Nile, and it was said that the crocodile was
tame as long as the feast continued. He was only suffered to live 25
years, and at his death he was embalmed and buried in these sarcophagi
amidst universal mourning till the priest had found a successor.

When I emerged once more from this mausoleum and struggled up through
the sand I paid a visit to the tomb of King Phty or Phta, said to be
5,400 years old. His sarcophagus is similar to those I had just visited,
and is contained in a nice lofty room, the walls of which, as are the
walls of the chapel outside, plentifully and excellently sculptured,
and quite fresh in appearance, though so ancient. I do not remember
all I saw represented on the walls and tombs, but amongst other things
there were lions, giraffes, ostriches, sacred Ibis, owls, crocodiles,
elephants, buffaloes, a boat floating on the water with a man in it,
and in the water fish of different kinds, Egyptians fishing, harpooning
the hippopotamus, agricultural pursuits, ploughing and sowing, treading
out the corn just as they do now, the butcher sharpening his knife, the
butcher killing the animal whilst another holds him down, hunting,
battle scenes, &c., &c. Some figures on the wall had been painted red;
the paint is still good and not at all frayed. In another excavation,
after leaving this tomb, I saw a mummy; but I must not expend too much
time over this place, although I feel quite disposed to keep on talking
of it. We cannot leave the plain of Memphis without recurring to the most
memorable event in all its eventful history. It was probably here that
Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh and demanded that he should let the
people go. This was the spot where “Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and
all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in
Egypt, for there was not a house in which there was not one dead.”

Ruminating on the mutability of human affairs, I mounted my donkey, had
a long ride through beautiful palm groves, and finally emerged from
the village of Gizeh on to the main road from the pyramids and over
a handsome bridge across the Nile to my hotel. When half-way across
the Nile, I observed the Khedive and his escort coming along, so I
got off my donkey to watch him pass. I took off my hat to him, and he
acknowledged my salutation with a gracious bow. As I returned homewards,
in imagination I saw these glorious cities of old Egypt peopled. I tried
to picture to myself—feebly, I dare say—the splendour and wealth of
those people, the magnificence of the designs carried out, the result of
which was that neither before nor since has the sun shone on anything
like such superb, massive, and imposing temples, palaces, and tombs in
the world. Thebes, with its hundred gates, was perhaps the most splendid
city in the world for many centuries. Then there were Luxor, Karnak,
Philæ, Elephantine, Baalbeck, Dendera, Aba-Simbal, Abydos, Esneh,
Edfau, Silsilis, and other places, all decorated with palaces, temples,
pyramids, tombs, and sphinxes, &c., on the same magnificent scale; but
all have shared the same fate, and their stupendous ruins are all that
remain to strike the stranger with awe and wonder.

About two days after our arrival in Cairo, our party was augmented by the
arrival of Mr. W. D. James, Mr. A. James, and Mr. Percy Aylmer, Mahoom,
a black boy; who had been rescued from the Soudan some years beforehand;
Jules, George, and Anselmia, the three latter European servants. Here we
engaged Suleiman as a sort of general manager for the caravan; he had
travelled through the Soudan with Sir Samuel Baker; Ali, a very good
cook, and Cheriffe, who made a very good butler, and had been accustomed
to travel as a kind of steward on the Nile boats.



CHAPTER VII.

    THE LAND OF GOSHEN—ANCIENT CANALS—SUEZ—HOWLING
    DERVISHES—ECLIPSE OF THE MOON AND STRANGE BEHAVIOUR OF
    NATIVES—LEAVE SUEZ—WHERE THE ISRAELITES CROSSED THE RED
    SEA—PASS MOUNT SINAI—CORAL REEFS ABUNDANT.


Our next move was on to Suez by rail, a day’s journey through another
very interesting portion of Egypt, the land of Goshen, the home of the
Israelites for 430 years. A good deal of country near the line of railway
is now under good cultivation, supplied by the Sweet Water Canal. The
earliest attempt that we are acquainted with to construct a canal was by
Rameses the Great. It was between 50 and 60 miles in length, and left
the Nile at Bubastis, reaching into the neighbourhood of Lake Timsah.
Upon it Rameses built his two treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses near
Ismailia, mentioned in the 1st chapter of Exodus, and there is little
doubt that the Israelites, who were then in bondage, laboured at these
cities, and the canal 3,000 years ago. It is probable also that the
canal dated far back beyond this time, for the Egyptians had been great
in canal making 1,000 years or more before then. One of the greatest
marks of Rameses was the covering the whole of Egypt with a net-work of
waterways in connection with the river. They served a double purpose—they
greatly extended the supply of water and the area of cultivation, and
were invaluable for defensive purposes. Many centuries after this Pharaoh
Necho took this canal in hand 500 or 600 years B.C. He undertook to adapt
it for navigation and prolong it to the head of the Arabian Gulf. He is
the only Egyptian monarch whose name appears connected with maritime
enterprise, and he was so zealous as to perfect the formation of a ship
canal connecting the Nile with the Red Sea. He carried the great work as
far as the Bitter Lakes, and then abandoned it, warned by an oracle to
desist, after expending the lives of 120,000 fellahs. Herodotus actually
_saw_ the docks, which as a part of the plan, he had constructed on the
Red Sea. One conqueror succeeded another, and the works got neglected
and the canal choked up. The Romans again carried on extensive repairs
and alterations, but on the downfall of the Roman Empire anarchy and
confusion prevailed, and all public works were allowed to fall into
dilapidation. The canals were choked up, and remained unnavigable till
the Arab conquest of Egypt. Under the vigorous administration of Amrou
they were re-opened, and corn and other provisions were conveyed along
them for the use of Mecca, Medina, and other Arabian towns. A very great
deal could be said about their ancient canals, but I have only time to
glance _en passant_ at a little of the ancient history of the places I
passed by. In the evening we arrived at Suez, 76 miles east of Cairo.
There is very little to interest or amuse at Suez, but here we were
obliged to remain for nearly a week by reason of stoppages in the canal,
which are frequent. The day after our arrival we took donkey rides down
the Mole, which is 850 yards long, to see after our provisions, tents,
&c., which Mr. James and his friends had got together for our campaigning
in the Soudan. We found them, and there sure enough was a stambouk (a
native boat something like a fishing smack) not only full but piled
up with everything that we could possibly require, and the collecting
of which must have necessitated a great deal of forethought. Two days
after our arrival, Mr. J. B. Colvin, of Monkham’s Hall, Waltham Abbey,
arrived by steamer from Australia, to join us, thus completing the party.
During our stay here there happened to be an eclipse of the moon. This
appeared to have a very disturbing influence on the native element, as I
should think that every tom-tom in Suez was called into requisition and
incessantly beaten all over the town during the eclipse to drive away
the evil spirits. If it did not succeed I have no hesitation in saying
that all the good spirits (ourselves) would very soon have vanished if
we could. We had ample time to explore the town both by day and night,
and amuse ourselves as well as we could by donkey rides down the Mole,
boating, fishing and bathing, but whilst bathing we were careful not
to go far from shore for a header or remain in long, as sharks are so
plentiful in the Red Sea. One evening, two or three of us were wandering
about at night and heard strange noises issuing from a small building.
We were sufficiently inquisitive to go up a narrow passage to ascertain
the cause. There we found about a dozen very dirty howling dervishes in
the odour of sanctity (a decidedly strong odour we thought) performing
their senseless and absurd mode of worship with great energy. They were
in a dirty room, having a damp, uneven, earthen floor, the dimensions of
which were about 7 feet high, 7 feet wide, and perhaps 10 feet long.
Very little light or air could find its way in. The weather was very hot,
and the sudoriferous glands of these unsavoury gentry were in an abnormal
state of activity. Need I say that we remained here a very short time?
We were all thoroughly tired of Suez, and anxious to get on to Souâkin,
but unfortunately, amongst all the steamers blocked in the Suez Canal, we
could not hear of a single one bound for Souâkin. The _Agra_, a British
India steamer, was bound for Jeddah, on the opposite coast, so Mr. James
telegraphed to London, asking the Company to let us be taken to Souâkin.
They acceded to the request. Accordingly, on the 8th December, we got on
board, unloaded the stambouk, and started off for Souâkin, _the_ port
of Nubia, and indeed of Central Africa, since made historical by our
slaughter of thousands of Arabs in that neighbourhood. The places of
interest pointed out to us on the Red Sea coast were Moses’ Well, Mount
Sinai, and the spot where the Israelites crossed. Here the arm of the sea
is 12 miles wide, and just here Pi-hahiroth before Baal-zephon is the one
and only opening in the mountains. Here one million and a half of the
Israelites—men, women, and children—passed through in the night, whilst
the army of Egypt pursued them. After a most agreeable but very warm
voyage (90° F. in the shade) of 3½ days we reached Souâkin. During our
last day at sea Captain Smith was very careful in his navigation, as the
Red Sea, particularly in that last day’s voyage, abounds in coral-reefs.

[Illustration: LANDING PLACE AT SOUÂKIN.]



CHAPTER VIII.

    ARRIVAL AT SOUÂKIN—THE SOUDAN—BEDOUIN ARAB PRISONERS IN
    THE SQUARE, NOT “ON THE SQUARE”—IVORY—ENGAGE CAMELS—SHEIK
    MOUSSA—SOUÂKIN—SLAVES—TRAGIC END OF A DOCTOR—HADENDOWAH
    ARABS—AN ILL-FATED MISSIONARY ENTERPRISE.


We were now just about to land in the Soudan, and as that word is, as I
am writing, in everyone’s mouth, it would be as well to say something
about it before I go any further.

The Soudan, or Beled-es-Sudan, Land of the Blacks, has since the Middle
Ages been the common name of the vast extent of country in Central
Africa, which stretches southward from the Desert of Sahara to the
Equator. The name was originally applied by the Arabs, but with great
latitude of signification, different authors giving it to the different
parts of the territory with which the varying routes across the desert
made them acquainted. Later geographers divide it into High and Low
Soudan. Many include Senegambia in it. High Soudan stretches from the
sources of the Niger, Senegal and Gambia, to the Upper Nile, or, at all
events, to the south of Lake Chad, and embraces the mountains of Kong
and of Upper Senegambia, the kingdoms of Ashantee, Dahomey, Mandingo,
Houssah, and Feelah. All this country is richly watered and wooded,
distinguished by a luxuriant tropical vegetation and by deposits of gold.
Low Soudan stretches on the north of High Soudan, eastward to Kordofan,
and northward to the desert. This district is partly level, partly
undulating, and partly broken by chains of lofty hills rising within
its own limits. Its situation between the desert on the north and the
mountains which border it on the south, with a climate destructive to
foreigners, and a lawless and predatory population, make it one of the
most inaccessible regions in the world. In the south, where it is watered
by the Niger, Lake Tchad, and their tributaries, it assumes a fertile
and cultivated appearance. The inhabitants contain numerous nations of
different races, chiefly of the Negro, Fulde, or Fellatah stems, together
with many Arab colonists.

This is what Sir Samuel Baker says about the Soudan in the _Contemporary
Review_: “Before the White Nile annexation the Soudan was accepted as
a vague and unsatisfactory definition as representing everything south
of the first cataract at Assouan, without any actual limitation; but
the extension of Egyptian territory to the Equator has increased the
value of the term, and the word Soudan now embraces the whole of that
vast region which comprises the Deserts of Libya, the ancient Merve,
Dongola, Kordofan, Darfur, Senaar, and the entire Nile Basin, bordered
on the east by Abyssinia, and elsewhere by doubtful frontiers. The Red
Sea alone confines the Egyptian limit to an unquestionable line. Wherever
the rainfall is regular the country is immensely fertile; therefore the
Soudan may be divided into two portions—the great deserts which are
beyond the rainy zone, and consequently arid, and the southern provinces
within that zone, which are capable of great agricultural development.
Including the levels of the mighty Nile, a distance is traversed of about
3,300 miles from the Victoria N’yanza to the Mediterranean; the whole of
this region throughout its passage is now included in the name ‘Soudan.’”

We had on board Captain Gascoigne and Dr. Melidew, of the Royal Horse
Guards. They were also bent on a shooting expedition in the Soudan,
but did not accompany us farther than Souâkin. There were several other
passengers on board bound for India.

We landed at Souâkin on the quay, in a large open square. One side is
occupied by what is absurdly called the palace, a large building in which
the Governor transacts his official duties, the opposite side by the
custom-house, the other by a guard-house, whilst the opposite side was
not occupied by any building, but was open to and contiguous to the Red
Sea; it was, in fact, the quay.

Here I saw nine tons of elephants’ tusks ready for shipment. The average
weight of each pair of tusks would be somewhere about 36lbs. I computed
that about 560 elephants would have been slaughtered to make up nine
tons of ivory; and if elephants are killed at that rate, people may well
exclaim about the scarcity of ivory. What next attracted my attention was
about 60 Bedouin Arabs in heavy chains, wandering about in this large
open square. These poor fellows had to pay their gaolers 100 dollars
a month. The Maria Theresa dollar which is in use in the Soudan, and
preferred to any other coin, is worth 4s. of our money. They had to
find their own food, or rather their tribe did so. I was told that at
one time they were a strong tribe, and had come over from Arabia. They
had at one time 8,000 camels, but they had dwindled down to 2,000, as
whenever they failed to pay the taxes some of their camels were seized.
I cannot speak with any certainty of their offence, but somehow or other
they had incurred the anger of the then Governor of the Soudan, Ali Riza
Pacha, about a year beforehand. He clapped them into irons, and there
they seemed likely to remain, unless some more kindly-disposed Governor
superseded him. This fortunately happened not long before our return to
Souâkin in the following April, when Ali Dheen Pacha was appointed, who
soon liberated them.

The inhabitants of Souâkin are principally Arabs, a few Greek and Italian
merchants, and two Englishmen. The Government usually have a garrison
of about 300 Nubian troops stationed in an undefended barrack on the
mainland, about a mile from the town.

Blind to their own interest, the Egyptian Government obstructs traffic by
the heavy duties which it levies. Cattle and sheep, which can be obtained
from the tribes in the neighbourhood, are sent by hundreds annually to
Suez by sea. Were it not for the heavy duties imposed, I should say that
a large trade ought to be done with Suez, which is but three and a half
days from Souâkin. There is a telegraph line to Kassala. They have large
numbers of camels for sale or hire, but no horses, mules, or donkeys. The
water is collected during the wet season in a large reservoir about a
mile from the town; there are also two or three wells at the same place.

We soon introduced ourselves to Mr. Brewster, an Englishman, and head
of the custom-house; and he in turn sent for Achmet Effendi, the Civil
Governor of Souâkin, to whom he introduced us. Of course, there followed
the inevitable salaaming, coffee and cigarettes, so customary in the
East. Our business was very soon explained; we wanted about 80 camels
provided without delay to transport ourselves and our baggage across
the desert to Kassala. The camel sheik, Moussa, was sent for, and soon
appeared—a really picturesque, handsome-featured man, almost black,
possessed of gleaming, regular teeth, wearing a snow-white turban and
loose white robe, precisely like the ancient Roman toga. _En passant_, I
cannot help thinking that the slang word “togs” is derived from the word
toga.

The Sheik Moussa promised to provide us with the camels within three
days; and, strange to say, he did so, a singular instance of a man
keeping his word to one in the East. I know that my experience amongst
the officials in Turkey was very different—there everything was put off
until to-morrow. A day would be fixed for me to call at the Seraskierat,
or War Office, and when I went I was usually met with the reply, “Yarrin
sabbah, effendi” (to-morrow, sir), or “Ywash, ywash” (by and bye), not
once or twice, but I daresay five or six times. Another inconvenient
phrase which is always on their lips if one wants any money from them,
and which is spoken trippingly on the tongue, is “Para yok” (no paras),
in English, “I haven’t a farthing.”

It soon became known that there was a “Hakeem Ingelese,” as they called
me, in our party, and I very soon had many patients, amongst whom was a
child of one of the Bedouin Arabs.

In the afternoon I improved my acquaintance with Mr. Brewster, who had
officially resided here four years, and, of course, knew most of the
people and the customs of the place. There are a great many good and
curiously-built houses with flat roofs, built of blocks of white coral,
and a great many tent-like structures constructed with reeds, stalks of
palm leaves, and matting, which is very cheap and abundant, made by the
natives out of palm leaves. Mr. Brewster was good enough to escort me
over Souâkin, and give me all the information he could about the place
and people. As we strolled on he pointed out the home of a slave-dealer,
who then had several slaves—children and young girls. These could easily
be transferred as ivory, dhurra, or something of the kind, as old Achmet
Effendi connived at slave-dealing, and would shut his eyes to the
transaction provided his palm was crossed with a couple of dollars per
head. The little children realize from 30 to 40 dollars a head, and young
girls 70, 80, or 100 dollars.

“Why,” said I, “in England it is supposed that the slave trade has been
abolished in Egypt long ago. When in Cairo I saw the slave-market, but
was told no slaves have been sold there for the past three or four year.”

“Ah,” said he, “you will find, when you get further into Africa, that it
is still carried on, and more openly than it is here. When they have been
captured they are driven across the desert just like cattle to some quiet
place on the Red Sea coast, where there is a stambouk waiting; there
shipped and taken across to Jeddah in a day or so, and sold by public
auction.” The only other Englishman resident at Souâkin was Mr. Bewlay;
he had at once lived in Jeddah for a time, and he assured me that he had
often seen slaves sold there. _Apropos_ of my profession, Mr. Brewster
related a very interesting, and, to me, a very instructive anecdote,
which served to enlighten me considerably as to the peculiar line of
thought which sometimes permeates the native brain, and to the still more
peculiar line of action which it leads to. He told me that about three
years or so before our arrival a German doctor, who had settled there,
whilst attending a native, had occasion to perform some trivial operation
which was not attended with the success which he desired or anticipated,
as unfortunately for the native, and subsequently for the doctor, the
former was so inconsiderate as to expire a day or two afterwards. The
doctor could truly say after this, “A doctor’s lot is not a happy one,”
inasmuch as the friends of the defunct Arab paid him a visit, and in a
marked but highly objectionable manner, showed what they thought of the
doctor’s services in a way that did not commend itself to me, and which,
for want of a better illustration, we will call “a new way of paying
old debts.” The worthy leech was requested, in so pressing a manner
that refusal was out of the question, to accompany these friends of the
deceased, and _nolens volens_, they escorted him to a large open space
just outside the town, where dhurra and other things were sold, and there
they remunerated him, not in dhurra, not in sheep, not in goats, not
even in money, but in a most cutting manner, for they fell upon him with
their knives and literally chopped him to pieces. Reader, “would you be
surprised to hear,” that on learning this I was extremely careful not to
perform any rash operations, and that my ministrations to the lame, the
halt, the sick, and the blind, should be successful. At all events, it is
a source of great gratification to me that they were not so unsuccessful
as to necessitate the sudden and unlooked-for departure of any of my
patients to their happy hunting-grounds.

The Hadendowah Arabs are the most numerous tribe in the neighbourhood
of Souâkin, and are, for the most part, good-looking men; they are very
dark, approaching to blackness, have good, well-formed features, large
dark eyes, arched black eyebrows, and face, on which as a rule there is
little or no hair, and nearly every Arab, here and elsewhere, that I met
with, is possessed of the most beautifully white, regular, and sound
teeth possible. There is little doubt but that this is due to the simple
manner in which they live; their chief food is dhurra (sorghum vulgare).
This contains 11½ per cent. of gluten, our wheat only ten per cent.
This is the wheat of Egypt, and is the food of camels, horses, and men.
Camels, however, get very little of it, as a rule, unless on a forced
march, or are owned by a man who can afford it. It grows to the height of
nine or ten feet, and is very prolific. I never counted the seeds in a
head of this sorghum, but Sir Samuel Baker did, and he says that in one
single head he found 4,840 grains. The Arabs, speaking generally, are not
big-boned men, but are lithe, active, and sinewy. Their hair is bushy,
frizzly, long, and black, which they wear very curiously; they often take
as much trouble with it as any West-end dandy would do. A parting is made
around the crown from one temple to the other; the hair on the top is
combed up and kept short—perhaps an inch long—the rest is combed down,
and stands out in a bush all round the head to a distance of three or
four inches; a thin piece of stick, like a skewer slightly bent towards
the sharp point, is stuck through the hair at the top, and is often used
to stir up the population, which is no doubt very numerous. I have often
seen their hair white with fat, which they plaster on most abundantly
when they can get it, and as few wear any covering over their shoulders
when they are exposed to the heat of the blazing sun, this drips down on
to them. They wear a bundle of charms secured just above the elbow, a
tope, or loin-cloth round the waist, which reaches down to their knees,
and very many a ring in one nostril. Nearly all of them carry a shield
and a long spear weighted at one end. The Hadendowhas are much given to
lying and laziness.

During the time that we remained here we were fully occupied in
preparing for our journey across the desert from Souâkin to Kassala,
a distance of about 280 miles; we cut up old boxes, made new ones,
and sorted out what provisions, &c., we should require. I arranged my
medicine-chest and surgical instruments so that I could get at what I
might want easily. We got a little shooting, sand-grouse, flamingoes,
pelicans, and herons; wandered about the town and frightened all the
children in the place, who thought we were slave-dealers come to steal
them. The principal slave supply is obtained from the White Nile and
Darfour; Khartoum, I believe, is the principal slave mart.

At nights we stretched ourselves out on the divan that ran round the room
in the palace, and slept head to feet all round. This room adjoined and
looked out on the square in which the Bedouin prisoners were confined;
frequently in the early morning they woke us up with their clanking
chains, or by indulging in their peculiar mode of devotion. The day
before we started on our journey, Mr. Brewster said—

“Well, Doctor, I hope you will all return alive and well, and not be so
unfortunate as a party that Dr. Felkin accompanied a year or two ago.”

“I am sure I quite indulge in the hope of returning to England in a sound
state,” I replied. “But tell me about the misfortunes of the party you
speak of.”

“That is done in a very few words,” said he. “Six missionaries went from
Souâkin and six from Zanzibar, meeting eventually in the wilds of Africa,
sent out by the English Church Mission Society, to reclaim lost sheep.
They were not happy in the selection of a suitable spot for evangelising,
as only three of them and Dr. Felkin returned to Souâkin, looking
considerably the worse for wear; the others had succumbed to fever,
dysentery, and spears. Indeed, I am not quite sure that some of them were
not eaten.”



CHAPTER IX.

    THE START ACROSS THE DESERT—MY CAMEL SERVES ME A SCURVY
    TRICK—THE CAMEL, ITS HABITS AND TRAINING.


Three days after our arrival at Souâkin there were some very heavy
showers of rain. Mr. Brewster informed me that it was eighteen months
since it last rained there.

On the fourth day after our arrival about 80 hired camels were brought
into the large open square to be laden with the tents and baggage of
every description. I wish I could adequately describe the scene that
ensued—the camels groan and bellow without any provocation, as if
they were the most ill-used animals in existence; the Arabs shout and
wrangle with each other as they adjust the loads on the haweias (a kind
of pack-saddle), clutch one another by the hair of the head, after the
manner of women when quarrelling, and shake the offending head about most
vigorously. Our head-man, Suleiman, walks round and distributes his
favours very impartially—a tug of the hair for one, a box on the ears
for another, and a flick of the coorbatch (a whip made of hippopotamus
hide) for another. This scene lasted for about three hours, and when at
last they did start, they formed a very long hamlah, or caravan. The
head of one camel is tied to the tail of the one in front, a long piece
of rope intervening to allow for the long stride of the camel. We posted
our letters—the last for some time to come—for England, to say that we
were just starting on our Arab life across the Nubian desert. The caravan
having started, each of us sees to his riding camel being got ready. We
are some time in starting, getting our makloufas (camel saddles) properly
and securely adjusted, and our little belongings, such as rifles,
revolvers, saddle-bags, travelling satchels, &c., fixed on them. Each one
has a zanzimeer hung on to a strap by the side of the camel. The word
zanzimeer requires explanation; it is a large leathern bottle, capable
of holding three or four quarts of water. As, in our journey across
the desert, we should perhaps be sometimes two or three days before we
came to any well, we had to provide a water-camel, whose business was
to carry two large barrels full of water for domestic purposes. Each of
these had a padlock on them, so that the Arabs could not get at them
just whenever they felt inclined—a very necessary precaution, as they
are so very careless, would take the spigot out of the barrel, quench
their thirst, and as likely as not insecurely replace the plug, and let
the water waste, which would be a very serious calamity. The mode of
mounting and sitting on a camel is peculiar; my legs don’t hang down each
side of him in stirrups, but hang down in front of the saddle each side
of his neck or crossed over the neck. No stirrups are used. The camel,
of course, is on the ground, with his legs tucked under him; I approach
his side and give a sudden vault or spring on to the makloufa. This must
be done with great dexterity and quickness, unless the attendant has one
foot placed on his fore-leg, as the camel gets up _instantly_ as soon as
I leave the ground, so of course, unless I am quick and dexterous, the
result is disasterous; in other words, the camel gets on to his legs,
and I go off mine on to my back. I watched the process of mounting very
carefully, as it was my first experience of camel riding. I attempted
and succeeded in doing the same as my pattern, and when my camel got up
(which he did pretty quickly, and not without considerable danger and
inconvenience to me), I felt that I occupied a very high and somewhat
precarious position. However, I soon got accustomed to the peculiar
motion of a camel. A hygeen, dromedary, or riding camel, can go on a
shuffling kind of trot (which is infinitely preferable to a fast trot or
walk) at the rate of about five miles an hour, and I am sure that anyone
who rides 25 or 28 miles a day, under the burning rays of an African sun,
will think he has done quite enough, although on some occasions we have
made forced marches and travelled 30 or 33 miles in one day. There were
no hygeens at Souâkin; we therefore rode our caravan camels. A hamlah,
or caravan camel, is capable of carrying considerably over 3 cwt. for
very long distances, travels at the rate of 2½ miles per hour, and will
go steadily on for 12, 14, or 16 hours without stopping to eat or drink.
He only requires water every fourth day, and can go without (on a pinch)
5 or 6 days, but when he does drink it is as well to let out his girths
a few inches, or he will burst them. The twigs and leaves of the mimosa
and kittar bushes, the scanty herbage of the desert, is all he requires,
except whilst making forced marches, when he requires a certain amount
of dhurra, because he has no time for grazing. This useful animal may
well be called the ship of the desert, for if it were not for him, the
enormous extent of burning sand which separates the fertile portion of
the Soudan from Lower Egypt would be like an ocean devoid of vessels,
and the deserts would be a barrier absolutely impassable by man. During
the season when fresh pasture is abundant camels can go for weeks without
water, provided they are not loaded or required to make extraordinary
exertions; the juices of the plants which form their food are then
sufficient to quench their thirst. The flesh of the young animal is one
of the greatest luxuries; of the skins tents are made; the various sorts
of hair or wool shed by the camel are wrought into different fabrics;
and its dried dung constitutes excellent fuel, the only kind, indeed,
to be obtained throughout vast extents of country. In order to qualify
camels for great exertions and the endurance of fatigue, the Arabs begin
to educate them at an early age. They are first taught to bear burdens
by having their limbs secured under their belly, and then a weight
proportioned to their strength is put on; this is not changed for a
heavier load till the animal is thought to have gained sufficient power
to sustain it. Food and drink are not allowed at will, but given in small
quantity, at long intervals. They are then gradually accustomed to long
journeys and an accelerated pace until their qualities of fleetness and
strength are fully brought into action. They are taught to kneel, for
the purpose of receiving or removing their load. When too heavily laden
they refuse to rise, and by loud cries complain of the injustice. Those
which are used for speed alone are capable of travelling from 60 to 90
miles a day: Instead of employing blows or ill-treatment to increase
their speed, the camel-drivers sing cheerful songs, and thus urge the
animals to their best efforts. When a caravan of camels arrives at a
resting or halting-place, they kneel, and the cords sustaining the loads
being untied, the bales slip down on each side. They generally sleep on
their bellies: In an abundant pasture they generally browse as much in
an hour as serves them for ruminating all night, and for their support
during the next day. But it is uncommon to find such pasturage, and they
are contented with the coarsest fare, and even prefer it to more delicate
plants. Breeding and milk-giving camels are exempted from service, and
fed as well as possible, the value of their milk being greater than
that of their labour. The milk is very thick, abundant, and rich, but
of rather a strong taste. Mingled with water it forms a very nutritive
article of diet. The young camel usually sucks for twelve months, but
such as are intended for speed are allowed to suck and exempted from
restraint for two or three years. The camel attains the full exercise of
its functions within four or five years, and the duration of its life is
from forty to fifty years. The hump or humps on the back of a camel are
mere accumulations of cellular substance and fat, covered by skin and a
longer hair than that on the general surface. During long journeys, in
which the animals suffer severely from want of food, and become greatly
emaciated, these protuberances become gradually absorbed, and no trace
of them left, except that the skin is loose and flabby where they were
situated. In preparing for a journey, it is necessary to guard the humps
from pressure or friction by appropriate saddles, as the slightest
ulceration of these parts is followed by the worst consequences: insects
deposit their larvæ in the sores, and sometimes extensive and destructive
mortification ensues. I have often seen crows pecking away at sores on
a camel’s side, and was surprised to see how little notice it takes of
them. After all, I must say of the camel, that he not only groans and
roars when he is too heavily laden, but at all times without the least
occasion, and although it may appear mild, docile, and patient, it is
frequently perverse and stupid. The males especially are at certain
times dangerous. It is sure-footed, too, as I have often experienced in
travelling over mountains so precipitous that no animal but a camel could
have carried such heavy loads as I have seen it do without accident. All
breeds of camels could not do so, but those belonging to the Hadendowah
Arabs, between the Red Sea and Taka, are very sure-footed. The camels
most highly thought of in the Soudan are the Bishareen; they are very
strong and enduring, but not so large as many others. There is quite
as much difference in the breeds of camels as of horses, and as much
difference in riding a hygeen and baggage camel as there would be in
riding a nice springy cob and a cart horse. Amongst the Arabs a good
“hygeen,” or riding dromedary, is worth from 50 to 150 dollars; the
average value of a baggage camel is about 15 dollars, but I believe our
average ran up to 30 or 35 dollars.



CHAPTER X.

    OUR FIRST CAMP—TORRENTS OF RAIN—JULES BARDET—CAMEL-DRIVERS
    BEHAVE BADLY—SULEIMAN IN TROUBLE—CAMEL-DRIVERS GET
    UPSET—THE DESERT—TWO OF US LOSE OUR WAY—JULES SUFFERS FROM
    DYSENTERY—SAND-STORM—A PILGRIM DIES ON THE ROAD, ANOTHER IN THE
    CAMP—JULES’ ILLNESS—CAMP SPLIT UP—LOSE OUR WAY—ENCAMP SEVERAL
    DAYS IN THE DESERT—ARAB HUTS—THE MIRAGE—A LION.


After this digression and short dissertation on the camel, I will return
to the subject of our journey. We now formed a tolerably numerous
company, ourselves seven, three European servants, Suleiman, Mahoom,
Cheriff, and Ali, the cook, with an assistant, four or five native
servants, and nearly thirty camel-drivers. George, one of our servants,
and I had some trouble in getting our makloufas properly adjusted on our
camels; consequently, we were behind the others in starting. I also
made a call on Mr. Bewlay, who pressed me to remain to luncheon. As I
knew that this was to be a short march of about three hours, I did so.
I then bade adieu to Mr. Bewlay (one of the nicest and most gentlemanly
fellows to be met with), and commenced my journey, thinking I should
soon overtake my comrades, but in this I was greatly mistaken. I had
reached the middle of the town, amongst the bazaars, when the eccentric
conduct of my camel was quite alarming, exciting grave apprehensions
respecting the safety of my limbs, I being quite a novice in the art of
camel-riding. Down he flopped without the least preliminary warning,
whilst I held on to the makloufa as if I had been in a hurricane. I
plied my coorbatch on his tough hide; the only effect it produced was
to make him open his mouth (to such a width that it could easily have
accommodated a human head) and groan away with most stentorian voice. At
last an Arab succeeded in getting him on his legs, and away he went at
such a jolting pace that I experienced the greatest difficulty in keeping
my seat. Down he flopped again in the same unceremonious manner as before
just in front of a projecting part of the Police Station.

“Well,” I mentally ejaculated, “this is, indeed, too much. I will not be
placed in such jeopardy as this any longer.”

I lost no time in dismounting; Sheik Moussa was sent for, and at once
promised to find me a tractable beast. George remained with me. We had
no sooner unburdened the camel, and got under the projecting roof of the
Police Station, than down came the rain in torrents; then I felt thankful
that my camel had proved so awkward and disobedient. Two hours and a half
elapsed ere a respectable camel was brought. By that time the rain had
ceased, and George and I resumed our journey in comfort.

When we arrived at camp at 6 p.m., we found the tents pitched and
everyone changing their clothes, except Jules; they had all been
drenched to the skin. This was a favourable opportunity for me to
deliver a lecture on sanitary precautions. I therefore did so, warning
all Europeans to remember that we were not now in England, but in the
tropics, where the days were excessively hot and the nights not only
cool, but often very cold at this time of the year; always to change wet
clothing as soon as we got to camp; never to expose themselves to the
burning rays of a tropical sun without helmets; and last, but not by any
means least, to be extremely careful as to the quality of water they
drank, and always to see that the zanzimeers were well washed out before
they were replenished. Well, I know that in England, whilst practising
my profession, I have met with extremely clever people who not only know
their own business, but that of everyone else, and are most ready with
their unasked-for advice. They are quite encyclopedias of knowledge, or,
at least, they would have one think so. They apparently listen, with
folded arms and the head a little bit on one side, in the most attentive
manner, literally drinking in all the doctor is telling them when he
forbids this and orders that, and yet will use their own judgment or
sense—presuming, of course, that they have any—and the moment his back is
turned they exclaim—

“Pooh! what an old fidget that doctor is. I know that when poor Mrs.
Smith was ill her doctor didn’t do ought like that, but let her have a
glass of stout for dinner, and ordered her a glass of hot whisky and
water at bed-time, poor thing, and that was what kep her up.”

“When the doctor very impressively says, “Now, Mrs. Thompson, your friend
is very ill—I wish you to be careful to give her so-and-so and avoid
so-and-so,” Mrs. Thompson says, “Yes, doctor—I quite understand;” and
Mrs. T., being a very garrulous, and also a very knowing personage, will
begin a long rigmarole about her first husband’s case some 20 years
before, and how beautifully she nursed him through an illness of “seven
week,” as she calls it, and brought him round, she, of course, not having
had her clothes off for four weeks, nor a wink of sleep for ten nights,
till she was a perfect “shada,” but still able to articulate, poor thing.
Unless the poor doctor now bolts off, she will then confidentially
commence a history of three or four other cases in which she was, of
course, eminently successful. These very clever people, so wise in their
own conceit, are really very dangerous people, and I always look after
them well. Of course, Mrs. Thompson may think the medicine “strong enough
for a horse,” as she expresses herself, and will administer it if _she_
thinks it suits the case, and exercise her very discriminating faculties
in the way of diet, and matters of that kind; but at the end of a week
Mrs. Thompson—who has, of course, seen many similar cases—expresses to
her neighbours and confidants (who look upon her utterances as oracular)
her dissatisfaction with that ere doctor, and is determined on his next
visit to favour him with what she is pleased to call a bit of her mind.
She does as promised—

“Well now, doctor, what do you think _is_ the matter with poor Mrs.
Smith? She don’t seem to get on at all. I remember when poor Mrs.
Rodgers, my second husband’s first wife’s cousin, was laid up with—”

But, reader, you may imagine the rest; I can very well. I have used the
preceding imaginary conversation “to point a moral and adorn my tale.”

In our camp I had a very headstrong Mr. “Cleverity,” if I may say so,
to deal with. Jules, before we started, was working away, sorting the
baggage, &c., in his shirt sleeves after passing through the rain,
getting thirsty, and drinking bad claret and beer, such as he could
obtain in the place. Indeed, his absorbing powers were remarkable—he
resembled a huge dry sponge, which, when dipped into a basinful of water,
absorbs it _all_. I ascertained, from one who knew him well, that this
absorbing tendency was not altogether induced by the heat of the climate,
but that it was his normal condition which he always suffered from in
England, where he lived a life of comparative ease and indulgence. I only
knew Jules absorb water when he could not get anything stronger. I had
warned him at Souâkin not to get wet, as the evenings were so cold, and
now, on arriving at camp, here he was again wet to the skin, helping to
pitch tents and put things ship-shape; but, with a thirst unquenchable,
he was continually drinking water which was the colour of pea-soup, but
not _quite_ so thick.

“Now, Jules,” said I, “remember what I told you at Souâkin. You are going
the right way to get dysentery.”

He replied—

“Oh, I am all right, doctor. I am not an old woman, or a piece of
barley-sugar. I shall take no harm.”

The sequel will show how disastrous was his disregard of my repeated
warnings, and very much grieved I was for two reasons: one was the
loss of a really good-hearted fellow, who had proved a faithful and
affectionate servant to his master, who thought very much of him, for
many years; the other was, that although I used every effort to save him,
and many a time was unable to sleep on account of the anxiety the case
caused me, so much so that I frequently visited his tent in the night,
yet all was of no avail. Added to this, I was excessively and incessantly
annoyed by the fussy interference of two amateur doctors in camp, who,
as educated men, ought to have known better than to worry me seven or
eight times a day with useless suggestions of a shadowy character as to
the treatment of a complaint of which they knew absolutely nothing. They
were great examples of an old adage, “A _little_ knowledge is a dangerous
thing.”

In the evening of our first day’s camping out, just after dinner (we
dined at 7 p.m.), down came the rain again, causing us all to scamper
off to our respective tents; spades were out, and trenches dug round,
and there we remained until morning. At 6 a.m. we were up, and saw no
more rain for several months; indeed, not until I reached Venice in the
following May.

It was about 10 a.m. next day ere our caravan started. The sun blazed
out with a scorching heat, causing us to feel as if we were in a Turkish
bath from the evaporation which took place, and our solid leather
portmanteaus, which were thoroughly saturated the day before, to curl
up like match-boxes. Before we started on our second day’s march across
the desert our camel men were told they were to go on until 6 p.m., and
Suleiman was commissioned to see this order carried out. We often went on
in front of them in the morning, on the look out for a shot at a desert
gazelle; but it was singularly noticeable that about 1.30 p.m. we were
all somewhere in the neighbourhood of Cheriff, our butler, who was in
the charge of the canteen on a camel. Unless we made a forced march,
we usually breakfasted about 7 a.m., luncheon at 1.30, dined at 7, and
retired to rest at 9 or 9.30 p.m. After luncheon we frequently lay down
on our rugs, smoking cigarettes and reading some book, long after the
caravan had passed us. This day we did so, but judge of our astonishment
when, at four o’clock, we came upon some of our camels browsing; others
had not been unburdened, and nearly all the camel-drivers were in a
circle, with uplifted spears.

We soon ascertained the cause of this; there was poor Suleiman, our
head boss, the centre of attraction for these Hadendowab Arabs, with
their uplifted spears, who were angrily jabbering away. To the question,
“What’s the meaning of this, Suleiman? they were to have gone on until
six o’clock,” he replied, “Yes, I know, gentlemen, that I tell them they
no stop till I say, and I catch hold of one mans to stop him take the
load off the camel, and now they say they spear me if I don’t leave them
alone.”

[Illustration: HADENDOWAH ARAB CAMEL-MEN.]

He pointed out the ringleaders of what looked like mutiny against
authority, and as soon as he had done so, in true old English fashion,
a few well-directed blows put about five Arabs in the prone position;
all pulled out revolvers, and made them pile their spears, which were
at once secured, tied in a bundle, and given in charge to the English
servants. They were then made to re-load all the camels, and, at great
inconvenience to ourselves, we re-start at 6.30, and march until nearly
ten, just to let them see that they could not do as they liked, and that
we were masters and not they. This assertion of authority had a most
beneficial effect on the native mind. It was past eleven that night ere
we dined, and I retired to rest at half-past twelve, with a feeling of
general bruising and dislocated vertebræ easily accounted for, as I was
unaccustomed to the peculiar motion of a camel, which has a knack of
shaking up one’s liver in a most effectual manner. Referring to my diary,
I find that on our third day’s march, Dec. 17th, the temperature was
82° F. in the shade at 1.30 p.m. I generally took the temperature when
we halted for luncheon, which would usually be about one or half-past.
We could do with the dry heat very well as we were mounted, but now, in
consequence of the late heavy rains, we felt it very relaxing, and just
like a Russian vapour-bath. The Red Sea was still visible to the east
of us; to the west, a large tract of desert, backed up by impassable
rocky mountains. We now saw desert gazelles for the first time, and one
of the party brought one down, thus providing dinner for the evening.
We marched from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., came to water then, and pitched
our tents near to it. We generally had very good water, but here it had
a brackish taste; still, with the aid of four bottles of champagne, we
managed to slake our thirst tolerably well. So far the mimosa and kittar
bushes were abundant, particularly during the first two days, but on the
fourth day we saw very few indeed, and marched through absolute desert,
saw nothing but the burning sands, and huge rocks of volcanic origin. We
filled our barrels, zanzimeers and girbas with water before we started,
and again marched from ten till six; temp. 81° in the shade. A girba is
the skin of a gazelle dressed. It is dressed in the following way by the
Arabs:—They get the chopped red bark of the mimosa tree, and put in the
skin with water, it is allowed to remain there for three or four days
and then it is converted into leather. This day we encamped at a place
called Settareb. On the fifth day we again made the usual march, and shot
two gazelles. We started off at nine—and left the caravan to follow.
About 11 a.m. one of our servants caught us up with the information that
some of the camels had been lost. Messrs. A. and W. James returned to
see about them, and found that it was a dodge of the camel-drivers, who
thought they would try to sneak back to Souâkin. The camels were easily
found; the two camel-drivers were tied together, marched into camp, duly
admonished and punished. At 5 p.m. we come to water, turn out all the
brackish water, fill our barrels, &c., and march until 6 p.m.; temp. 82°
in shade. Dine at 7.30, bed at 10 p.m., but before going to bed we had
all the camel-drivers up, some of whom appeared inclined to be mutinous.
We gave them a sound lecturing, and let them distinctly understand that
we would not stand this kind of thing any more, and that the next offence
would be punished with the coorbatch. Our camping ground is called Wadi
Osier. The next day, our sixth in the desert, Mr. F. L. James and I had a
somewhat unpleasant experience. After luncheon, as usual, we all rested
awhile, allowing the caravan to go on. Mr. F. L. J. and I, who were
absorbed with our books, remained long after our comrades had proceeded
on their journey. When at last we did start, we were surprised to find
how late it was getting. Knowing that there is little or no twilight in
these parts, we hurried on, hoping to catch the caravan ere darkness
overtook us, but could not do so. Darkness comes on—a most profound
darkness, too—and we lose the track; we dismount and light matches to see
if we can find it again. We don’t, however, succeed in doing so. Nothing
now remains but to remount our camels and trust to them and Providence.
On we go, at the rate of four miles an hour. The silence of the tomb and
the darkness of Erebus surround us; not a glimmer of light could be seen
in any direction, not the sound of a wild animal, of a bird, or even
the rustling of a leaf, or the sigh of the softest zephyr. When we had
gone on thus for about an hour, neither seeing a light, nor hearing a
sound, we began to get uneasy, not knowing if we were going in the right
direction, but knowing full well that it might prove to be a serious
matter if we strayed off into the limitless waste of the desert. Every
now and again I fired a shot from my revolver, but I might as well have
used a pop-gun. Now the stars begin to make their appearance; by them we
see that we are, as we think, pursuing some track. We now dismount, and
finding that revolvers are useless, Mr. James gets his rifle and lets
off one barrel. We wait, and anxiously look for a corresponding flash;
hear we could not, as by this time a slight breeze had sprung up, and was
blowing from us towards our caravan. Another barrel is now fired, but no
reply. We were now rapidly coming to the conclusion that we should have
to tie our camels to a mimosa bush, and sleep out without food, and what
was still worse, without water, as both our zanzimeers were nearly empty.
Still we perseveringly jogged on, and after a time discharged another
barrel. In a few minutes’ time we see a slight flash, which appears to
be so far off that we cannot make out whether it is in the heavens or on
the earth. Not a sound reaches our ears. Our cartridges are also nearly
exhausted, and we have all but made up our minds to sleep out, but try
the rifle once more. This time both barrels are discharged one after
the other. We look out anxiously; not a sound reaches us, but we see a
corresponding double flash a long way off, and are convinced that this
comes from our camp. We see certain stars over the spot, and for these
we steer. When we had jogged on for another hour and a-half, we see a
glimmering light like the flicker of a lantern (it really was a huge
bonfire)—another half-hour, and we can plainly see lanterns moving about,
and to our great relief and that of our friends, we gain the camp at 9
p.m., thoroughly hungry, thirsty, and tired. The temperature this day was
86° in the shade; my ears and nose were quite scorched, and smarting from
the heat of the sun.

On arriving in camp I found Jules very ill indeed. On the fourth day he
came to me in the evening complaining of a bilious attack. I gave him
something for it. In some respects he was better by the evening of the
fifth, and on the morning of the 6th bilious vomiting had ceased, but
in the evening, judging from the symptoms, I was afraid that formidable
complaint, dysentery, was setting in. However, I kept this to myself,
at present, not wishing to alarm the camp, and hoping that treatment
might prove beneficial. We dined at 10.30, and retired to bed at 12 p.m.
When I say we retired to bed I literally mean that, not to a shake-down
sort of thing with a rug over me and a portmanteau for a pillow, but a
comfortable bed with a comfortable pillow, in a comfortable tent, and
cocoa-matting on the ground. There really was an air of comfort about
all our surroundings. We had comfortable shut-up and open-out chairs, a
comfortable folding-up table, each a nice portable india-rubber bath,
and, whenever we encamped by water we each had a bath before breakfast
and another before dinner. As for eatables and drinkables, the most
fastidious would not turn up their noses at those. We had sufficient
champagne and claret to last us during the whole campaign; a freezing
machine, so that we could have these iced in the hottest weather. We had
gozogenes and any amount of seltzer-water, and when we fell short of that
we used Eno’s fruit-salt in the gozogenes. We had Peek Frean and Co’s.
biscuits, Cross and Blackwell’s excellent Chutnee pickles and pickalili,
tomato sauce, asparagus, green peas, plum puddings, French jams, minced
collops, kidneys, tinned soups from Fortnum and Mason’s, Piccadilly, and
everything else one could think of to insure comfort in eating, drinking,
and sleeping. Some ascetics would say we were of the earth, earthy, but
I maintain that if you mean to keep a _mens sana in corpore sano_ one
may just as well—and a great deal better—build up the waste tissue from
time to time and travel with every comfort, if one can afford it, as
do the reverse. I have tried both; whilst campaigning in Turkey, when
I have been on the march with the army, I have indulged in the luxury
of a small onion and a limited piece of somewhat indifferent bread for
breakfast, washed down with a drop of water, the same again for luncheon,
and the same again for dinner, “and still I was not happy,” for I could
comfortably have disposed of breakfast, luncheon, and dinner at one
sitting without the slightest inconvenience. The ground was my bed, the
canopy of heaven was my tent, the twinkling stars my lantern, and a stone
or water-jug with a coat rolled round it was my pillow. I shall endeavour
to avoid the slightest exaggeration in this book, and will go so far as
to say that the former mode of travelling is by far the most comfortable,
and, in my humble opinion, the most conducive to health.

Again I find myself branching off, and cannot give any guarantee but what
I may still do so. All I ask is that my readers will overlook this little
failing of mine.

7th day.—We found water here, and of course replenished everything
with this valuable fluid. The mimosas were scanty and very stunted
here. During the night and all this day a great wind has been blowing,
producing a most blinding sand-storm, fortunately at our backs, or we
should not have been able to proceed. No one can form any idea of the
intense discomfort of a sand-storm, unless he has been in one. I may
close up my tent and be roasted inside. I may lock up my portmanteau,
which fits pretty closely, and have it in my tent, the lock covered with
leather, yet when I go to bed I find the sheets brown with sand, the most
secret recesses of my portmanteau and the lock filled with sand, and my
writing-case also, which is inside. I open my mouth to speak, and I can
masticate sand, if so disposed. I eat—all my food is full of sand. I
drink, not water, but water and sand. In fact, sand is everywhere; eyes,
nose, mouth, ears, hair, brains, and everything else has a mixture of
sand about it. I chance to leave a book, a pair of boots, or anything
else outside my tent, they soon become invisible, and are covered inches
deep in sand. Here we found great difficulty in pitching our tents, as
there was nothing but sand to drive the pegs into, and then we came to
rocks. Three or four days ago a lame woman and a man joined our caravan,
and two days ago two men, all bound for Kassala, all pilgrims from Mecca.
They were allowed to accompany us, and we fed them. To-day we miss the
woman, and on inquiry find that she was knocked up _en route_ yesterday,
and so her companion left her to die, and probably when we discovered
this she had been picked clean by jackals and vultures. Such is the value
put upon human life out here.

8th day.—The sand-storm still rages with unabated violence. We decide not
to go on, but encamp here to-day. We are, however, obliged to move our
tents to a place that is a little more sheltered, as at present it is
absolutely miserable. Jules still very ill. Temperature 86° in the shade.
In the day time the fierce heat of the sun rendered the interior of the
tents like ovens. Outside the sand reflected the heat. Although producing
great personal discomfort, our sufferings were nothing to what poor Jules
endured, who is now unmistakably suffering from dysentery badly. Under
any circumstances this is a grave complaint to have, but under present
circumstances, doubly so; that which he requires is impossible to obtain,
namely, absolute rest and a suitable diet. The poor fellow complains
to-day of incessant thirst, and everything he gets to eat or drink is
impregnated with sand, which it is impossible to avoid.

About 12 meridie, Mr. Phillipps, who was passing across the camp, saw
the two pilgrims whom we had allowed to join the caravan, two brothers.
One was supporting the head of the other in the blazing sun. The poor
fellow’s eyes, nose, ears, and hair, &c. were full of sand. He said his
brother was ill. I was at once called to him, and found him _in articulo
mortis_. Very little could be done for him, and in twenty minutes’ time
he died. His brother borrowed a spade, dug a shallow grave near the camp
and buried him, putting a mound of little white stones on the grave.
In my journey across the desert I frequently came across these graves,
sometimes two or three together, sometimes 20, 50, or 100. Occasionally
skeletons of camels were met with. In the present instance, the poor
fellow who died looked very emaciated and weak, probably exhausted by
constant marching and a deficient supply of food. But he had accomplished
the pilgrimage to Mecca, and I suppose he died a happy man.

9th day.—Poor Jules is so ill to-day that I cannot consent to have him
removed. The camp is accordingly split up, Mr. Phillipps and I, with a
few camels and attendants, remaining behind. The sand-storm is abating,
but the heat is very great and trying to Jules. A gazelle was shot
to-day. I cannot say that gazelle is a particularly toothsome morsel
under our circumstances. We are obliged to cook it on the same day that
it has been killed. The flesh of a desert gazelle is hard, and has very
little flavour. Our comrades left us about 10 a.m., and directly they had
gone down came the vultures for pickings.

10th day.—Jules still very ill, but in some respects a trifle better.
We decide on advancing to-day, if possible, and encamp a little longer
when we get to water. Accordingly we strike our tents and help the camel
men to load, send them on, then see to our own. We do not get off until
4.30 p.m. Half-an-hour afterwards we come to a dry river course, on each
side of which are dhoum palms and other trees. We saw a couple of jackals
sneaking off here, but did not get a shot at them. We trusted to one of
our Arabs to show us the way. When we had gone on for about an hour, he
suddenly stopped in the middle of a great sandy plain, said he was not
sure of the way, and as it was getting dark, thought we had better stop
until daylight. On hearing this Mr. Phillipps retraced his steps, and
was absent about two hours. I now became anxious about him, and every
now and then fired off my revolver. Fortunately I happened to have a box
of matches with me, and kindled a fire, then Mahoom and I tore up all
the stuff that would ignite. Half-an-hour afterwards Mr. Phillipps found
us, but he had been unsuccessful in his search for the road. However, we
kept up the fire, hoping some of our camel men would see the signals of
distress, which fortunately they did after a time; at last one of them
found us. In the meantime Jules was lying on the ground exhausted, with a
rug thrown over him. Our man led us to where the other camels were. Now
we had another bother: one of the camels had thrown his load off; the old
fellow who was in charge was lying on the ground, said he had got a pain
in his stomach, and we must stop there, as he could not possibly go on.
We roused him up, gave him a good shaking, and made him come on. But he
soon stopped again, and laid down to sleep, most coolly saying he could
not go any further. The fact is that just before we started he had eaten
a large quantity of raw meat, had, in fact, thoroughly gorged himself.
However, there we left him, and went on another two or three miles.
Halted at 10 p.m. and kindled a fire, had a cup of cocoa, a bit of bread,
rolled ourselves up in rugs, and lay on the ground. Jules suffered much
from this, as the nights were so cold.

11th day.—Up early, feeling stiff, cold, and hungry. Marched until 10
a.m. (four hours), intending to rest during the excessive heat of the
day, as my poor invalid was almost too weak to set up. About 3 p.m.
Mr. F. L. James appears on the scene, and tells us that the camp is
only about four miles off, at a place called Waudy. We get there about
6.30 p.m., and find the camp pitched near a well surrounded by dhoum
palms. Temperature to-day, 88° in the shade. This being Christmas Day,
we had some excellent plum puddings, made by Crosse and Blackwell, iced
champagne, and other luxuries for dinner.

12th day.—Jules was very ill indeed to-day, thoroughly prostrated by
his complaint, which had increased in intensity—it was quite out of the
question for him to attempt to move. We held a council, and decided
that as there were a few huts and goats, and a well, that it would be
advisable to let Jules rest here awhile, for now we could get a little
milk for him twice a day. Accordingly on the 13th day the camp was split
up. Messrs. A. and W. James, Colvin, and Aylmer went on to Kassala,
whilst Jules, Messrs. Phillipps, F. L. James, and I remained behind. Here
we rested for five days, and what with treatment, diet, and rest Jules
improved daily.

On the 16th day we rigged up an augarip (a kind of litter), with an
awning of matting and palm leaves to keep off the sun, and on the 17th
day this was slung across a camel. Jules got into it, and off we started
at 7.30 a.m., marching until 7.30 p.m. Much too long a journey for Jules,
who was again thoroughly knocked up and exhausted. I suggested now that
such marches were too long, and that our best plan was for me to start
off early with Jules, say 6 a.m., and march until 10, then rest until 4
and go on until 7 or 8 p.m. This was agreed to.

18th day. January 1st, 1883.—I visited Jules at 6 a.m.; found him no
worse. We started at 8, halt at 12, rest until 2, and go on until we
catch up the caravan, at 8.30 p.m. Jules complained bitterly of these
long journeys, which were so exhausting to an invalid. Medicine was now
out of the question, as the rolling motion of the camel made him very
sick. At the mid-day halt we found some empty huts in the desert. These
we explored, and found rather interesting. In several of them I found a
hole in the floor, the use of which is rather singular. The good wife of
the house uses this. She gets certain fragrant barks and frankincense,
burns them in the hole, then stands over them, having her dress drawn
round her, to fumigate herself and make herself acceptable to her
husband. In England, of course, this is not at all necessary. We passed
through a fine palm-grove to-day by a khor, and shot three gazelles.

19th day.—March again about 12 hours. Jules worse. Again I pointed out
the bad effect of these long marches on the invalid.

20th day.—Ten hours’ march to-day; halt near a deep well and a large
palm-grove. Here I shot a fine golden-crested eagle. Jules frightfully
done up, and rapidly going the wrong way.

21st day.—On the march at 9 a.m. We marched the greater part of this day
across an awful desert, where no living thing except ourselves could be
seen. No shelter was attainable for the mid-day lunch. Temperature 92° in
what shade we could manufacture. During several hours of the day I saw
that optical illusion which so often mocks the thirsty traveller, called
the mirage—mirage, called by the Arabs, Bahr esh Sheitan, “The Devil’s
Sea.” By a strange refraction of the atmosphere, plains of arid sands
seem to be rippling lakes of water as far as the eye can reach, lapping
the base of stupendous mountains of rocks, and bathing the roots of the
stunted mimosa bushes. This day marched nearly 14 hours. Jules takes
scarcely anything, is rapidly sinking, and again complains of these long
marches.

22nd day.—Another 12 hours’ march. See mirage again for hours. Encamp at
Fillick. Here there is a military station and a telegraph office.

23rd day.—Mirage again. Shot two gazelles, four bustards, and five
guinea-fowl. Appear to be getting into a better country. Jules much
weaker, pulse scarcely perceptible. Ten hours’ march to-day.

24th day.—Eleven hours’ march to-day, and, I am thankful to say, the last
day’s march across the desert. Temperature 93° in the shade. Since 11
a.m. we have travelled through much better country, and after our late
experience it was quite refreshing to see a luxuriant vegetation once
more, such as dhoum palms, colocynth, tamarisks, nebbucks, heglecks—not
stunted mimosa bushes now, but different kinds of mimosa trees and
various trees and shrubs. The place I am speaking of was quite like a
gentleman’s park. Here also were ariels, gazelles, bustards, parroquets,
eagles, vultures, and jackals. About seven, and pitch-dark, we, for the
first time, heard the roar of a lion not far off. Our sensations were of
a creepy character, and would, perhaps, have been more so had we known
what we did when we got to Kassala—that he had lately dined, at separate
times, on four human beings.



CHAPTER XI.

    ARRIVED AT KASSALA—DESCRIPTION OF KASSALA—WE BUY CAMELS
    AND HORSES—THE MUDIR GIVES A DINNER—JULES’ DEATH AND
    BURIAL—HYÆNAS—ARAB PATIENTS—MAHOOM’S HISTORY—DEMETRIUS MOSCONAS
    ON SLAVERY—MENAGERIE AT KASSALA.


We arrived at Kassala at 8 p.m., and found the camp pitched about a
quarter of a mile, or less, from it, close to a garden full of fine trees
of various kinds; in fact, between this garden and a very wide river bed.
This river is here called the Gash, but nearer to Abyssinia it is called
the Mareb. Jules’ exhaustion and pulseless condition was most alarming. I
succeeded in obtaining some eggs and milk; these I mixed with brandy, and
had this mixture administered to him every half-hour.

Whilst we were dining, at 9 p.m., we heard the peculiar cry of hyænas,
which literally swarm round the camp at night and make an awful row. I
daresay there would be 150 or 200 come round every night after dark, and
when we retired to our tents, and the lights were put out, they would
not only come close to, but actually into the camp; I can assure the
reader that I am not, as it is called, drawing the long bow when I say
that I have seen one poke his head in at my tent door more than once. We
remained here many days, and sometimes the hyænas would be so troublesome
and noisy that it was a by no means uncommon thing for one of us to
get up in the night, go to the edge of the camp in our night-shirt and
discharge the contents of one or two barrels into the noisy crowd. This
had a quieting effect, and we often found one or two dead hyænas in the
morning, the rest having scampered off.

We found Kassala a very warm place, for in the middle of January the
thermometer registered 90° in the shade. It is situated about 1,900 feet
above the level of the sea, is surrounded by a wall made of mud bricks
baked in the sun, and plastered over with mud and the refuse of cows.
The wall is loop-holed for musketry, and surrounded by a deep fosse. The
exports of the Soudan are ivory, hides, gum arabic, senna, bees’ wax, and
honey—the latter obtained chiefly from the Abyssinian border.

The Kassala Mountain, which is just outside Kassala, is an enormous,
almost perpendicular, mass of granite, several thousand feet in height,
rising straight out of the plain, and can be seen for many miles in all
directions. The population was in 1882, something like 25,000, without
reckoning the garrison, which consisted of about 1,000 Nubian troops.

There are large numbers of cows, goats, sheep, and camels in the
neighbourhood, and a great deal of camel-breeding is carried on here.

When I left England, the thought occurred to me that it would be a good
idea to take out some knives, razors, beads, and so forth, both as
presents and for barter. I, therefore, provided myself with some common
knives, about a dozen of a better class, and half-dozen hunting-knives
from Mr. T. B. Hague, of Sheffield; a couple of dozen of Mappin and
Webb’s, and Heiffer’s shilling razors, which were much prized by the
Arabs. These I found very useful at Kassala, as I bartered some of them
for a dozen beautiful long ostrich feathers, and a handful of shorter
ones. The natives were well pleased, and so was I.

January 8th.—We were now comfortably encamped, but, alas! too late for
Jules, who was fearfully emaciated and prostrate. I visited his tent
twice in the night, at one and four o’clock, but could do very little
more for him, and I fear he will soon go. All the camels that we hired
at Souâkin will have to return there with their drivers. One reason our
friends preceded us to Kassala was to let it be known that we wanted
to buy or hire camels. The result was not exactly what we anticipated,
for they kept them back awhile. When at last they were brought for
inspection, the most extravagant prices were demanded, whilst many
of them were absolute screws. We also required a few little horses
for hunting purposes; the dealers were as knowing as horse-dealers in
England, and that is saying a great deal.

January 9th.—Jules is evidently sinking fast. I visited his tent five
times in the night, but could do little for him beyond giving him drink
twice. Mr. W. James and Mr. Aylmer had taken lessons in photography
before leaving England, and were each provided with a good apparatus.
With these they took many interesting views in different parts of the
country. This day the Mudir (Governor) of Kassala sent his two little
boys and ponies to be photographed. Whilst we were at breakfast to-day
an Arab brought two playful little leopards, which he had stolen from
their nest. I could have bought them for a couple of dollars each, and
probably should have done so had I been on my way home. The Mudir paid
us a visit at noon, inviting us all to dine with him; but Mr. Phillipps
and I could not go on account of Jules’s illness, which now will be of
short duration. I understood afterwards from those who did go that the
dinner consisted of 15 or 18 courses. About 5 p.m. I visited Jules, and
found him asleep, but evidently sinking. Mahoom, who was my servant
during the whole campaign—and a very good boy he was, too—attended well
to him, and frequently sat up at nights with him. At 10 p.m. poor Jules
breathed his last. The particulars of his illness, together with other
curious and interesting medical notes, can be found in an article of mine
in the _British Medical Journal_, September 23rd and 30th, 1882. As soon
as he was dead I washed and laid him out. M. Demetrius Mosconas, a Greek
living in Kassala, was good enough to at once see about some kind of
coffin, covered with black cloth, shaped thus—[Illustration] This was to
be sent early in the morning.

January 10th.—At 10 a.m. the coffin was brought. Jules was put in it. On
the corpse were laid sprays of green shrubs all round. At 11.30 he was
carried to his last resting-place by natives, all of us following; the
Union Jack being placed on the coffin. The weather was fearfully hot,
and the roads very dusty. He was buried in a garden where three other
Christians had been buried. Mr. F. L. James read the burial service, and
we remained by the grave until it was filled up, which was very quickly
done in the following manner: The earth had been thrown up each side of
the grave, eight Arabs stood each side with their backs to the grave, and
as soon as the word was given they, with their hands, pushed the earth
between their legs, filling the grave within about ten minutes. A cross
was afterwards made of ebony by Mr. Phillipps, and placed at the head of
the grave. This concluded our last duty to poor Jules.

When we returned to camp, four horses and four camels were bought; after
lunch Messrs. Colvin and A. James, with Suleiman and a few servants,
started off for the Atbara in quest of camels, as these people were
holding theirs back in the hopes of making a good thing by so doing.
Korasi, on the Atbara, is considered one of the cheapest and best places
to buy camels.

January 11th.—Soon after my arrival at Kassala it became known that there
was a “Hakeem Ingelese,” as they called me, and I very soon found that
my patients daily increased in number. Every morning after breakfast
there was I, wearing my pith helmet, in the broiling sun, with Mahoom
as interpreter, for two hours or more attending to a large number of
Arabs—men, women, and children—who squatted round my tent on their
haunches in a semicircle. I frequently saw 60, 70, or 80 patients a day.
I did not charge them anything; probably, had I done so I should have
materially thinned out the applicants for medical and surgical relief. It
is a strange thing, but human nature is (in some respects) pretty much
the same in Central Africa as it is in England.

Ali Mahoom’s history, poor boy, was not, in early life, a very bright
one, as he was stolen by the slave-dealers. He said—

“I remember very well, sir, when dey took me. My mother was out when a
lot of mens come down and took all de little childrens dey see. Dey took
me with dem to Khartoum, and dere my mother found me. Dey let her stop
with me for a long time. She begged dem to let her have her little boy
back, but dey say, ‘No, unless you steal two little children; den you
shall have him back.’ Den I was sold to somebody else; after dat Gordon
Pasha find me, and he take me and give me to Mr. Felkin, and he has
been good to me ever since.” He gave me the name of the country he came
from, but I forget it, adding, “It is the next country but one to the
Niam-Niams.”

I had heard they were cannibals, so I said to Mahoom—

“What do they eat, Mahoom?”

“Dey eat de flesh of beobles,” he replied.

“But,” I said, “why don’t they eat antelopes and other animals?”

“Dey say de flesh of beobles is much nicer,” he replied.

He, of course, was disgusted with them. I found also that if a relation
dies they bury that relation in close relation to them, that is, at the
entrance to the hut; and if a baby, they send it to the relatives they
have most respect for, and these relatives, to show their respect for
their friends, eat the baby—cooked, I presume, but that I am not sure of.

About noon M. Demetrius Mosconas (who spoke English fairly well, and
is, in a certain sense, a brother) asked me to go and see his son, who
was very ill. I did so, and found him suffering from acute rheumatism.
Mosconas, it seems, was engaged by the Government in sinking wells in
some outlying districts, and his son, who partly superintended this work,
must have contracted this disease by sleeping out, as, although the days
were very hot, the nights were often excessively cold, and I have often
known the thermometer sink from 90° at 1.30 p.m. to 45° or lower by 11
p.m.

I had a talk with Mosconas about slavery, and learnt very conclusively
that it exists pretty openly in this part of the Soudan. He informed
me that the woman (his servant) who had just brought us two small cups
of coffee was a slave, one of a dozen owned by an Arab woman, and she
realized a living by letting them out on hire. He paid three dollars
per month for the hire of this slave. He also told me that Georgie Bey,
an Arab Army doctor, who left Kassala for Khartoum the day before our
arrival, sold two of his slaves before he went. This Georgie Bey was
since killed with Hicks Pasha’s army near Souâkin.

Another bit of information which Mosconas gave me was that some Arabs and
Greeks breed from slave-women, who are kept for profit just as cattle are
in England. The children born under these circumstances are sold by their
fathers.

Having had a long chat with Mosconas, I next paid a visit to Herr
Schumann’s collection of wild animals. I found a large building and yard
occupied by them. Schumann himself was away some distance from Kassala,
amongst the Beni-Amir tribe, where he had a zareeba. He collected animals
there, and sent them on to his manager at Kassala. Just before the rainy
season commenced, about May, he would go on himself, with quite an army
of attendants, across the Nubian Desert to Souâkin with his collection;
then take them to London, Liverpool, Hamburg, Vienna, and America, where
they would be sold. Here he had four giraffes, four gazelles, three fine
antelopes, as tame as lambs, a nice, amiable little baby elephant, five
young lions, chained to rickety old posts, which rattled up, as they
darted at a passer-by, in a very alarming manner, nine infant leopards,
two or three young hyænas, eight ostriches, some wild hogs, baboons,
tiger-cats, and other animals.



CHAPTER XII.

    CAMELS FROM THE ATBARA—THE MUDIR—GORDON PASHA’S CHARACTER IN
    THE SOUDAN—FERTILITY OF THE SOUDAN.


January 15th.—Messrs. Colvin and A. James, with their attendants,
returned this afternoon from the Atbara, having purchased thirty-four
camels. This rather astonished the natives here, who had no idea that
we could do without theirs, and quite thought we should be obliged
eventually to buy their camels, and of course give them a good price.
Whilst our friends were gone to the Atbara, we bought sixteen camels,
eight ponies, a number of sheep, and some milk-giving goats, so that we
could have milk with our porridge every morning for breakfast. It was
decided to-day that we must hire a few more camels for our march from
here to the Beni-Amirs, and leave Kassala on the 17th.

January 16th.—Mosconas dined with us to-night; he says that a year ago
King John’s nephew, of Abyssinia, whilst fighting with some of the Arab
tribes, was killed, and that a Shukeryiah Arab took out his heart and ate
it on the spot. He said that these Hadendowahs, Beni-Amirs, Shukeriyahs,
Hamrans, and others, are always fighting, either with the Abyssinians or
amongst themselves, and that in consequence of the frequent raids made by
the Egyptian governors on the Arabs for taxes, the latter frequently hide
their money in the ground, putting oil on it to prevent discolouration.
He also informed me that the present Mudir of Kassala was a very sharp
fellow, and extremely successful in squeezing money out of the poor
Arabs, but that Gordon Pasha, when he was Governor of the Soudan, was
very kind and lenient, frequently remitting taxes when he thought they
were unduly pressed.

Now my own opinion of Gordon Pasha is that he was a just, honest, and
honourable man, whose sole aim was, not to extort all he could from these
poor Arabs, and so make himself popular at head-quarters, but to do that
which was simply right between man and man, just to those who employed
him, and to those whom he ruled. I believe I should not be far wrong
in saying that all Egyptian governors who preceded and succeeded him
were _extortionists_. What a charm his name had in the Soudan, amongst
different tribes in different parts! I have noticed that when Gordon’s
name was mentioned the Arab’s countenance would become radiant with
pleasure, as if calling up recollections of a good friend in bygone days,
and with a significant, “Ah! Gordon Pasha,” they would begin to expatiate
on his good qualities in such a way that I could not help thinking that
he had more influence amongst them than any man living. The fact is, that
these poor down-trodden Arabs had, unknowingly, adopted one of our own
texts, “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.” Gordon Pasha
was kind to them, and when he passed his word he would keep it, whether
it clashed with the interests of the Khedive or not. He was the only man
as a governor whom they trusted as children would their father, and who
never forfeited their confidence. All his actions were summed up in the
words justice, truth, and duty.

    A wit’s a feather,
    A chief’s a rod,
    An honest man’s the noblest work of God.

As I am writing this (March 30th, 1884), I cannot help thinking that, had
Gordon Pasha been sent out to the Soudan nine months ago, before the wave
of rebellion had increased to raging billows, sweeping over the land, we
should have been spared the painful events which have taken place there
quite lately, and by this time the Mahdi would have been little heard
of. Then Gordon Pasha would have come on them like the noon-day sun, and
all the tribes would have flocked round him as a deliverer, whilst the
Mahdi would have been powerless, and relegated to the obscurity from
which he had sprung. What a country Egypt and the Soudan might become
under British rule! In Lower Egypt we should form a net-work of canals in
communication with the Nile, as in the days of Pharaoh; then thousands
upon thousands of acres, which to-day look sterile deserts, would be
made to yield enormous quantities of sugar-cane, cotton, flax, dhurra,
&c., and at least two crops in the year could be obtained. Politics I
have nothing to do with. I am simply giving an expression to an opinion
which I formed when in the Soudan and Egypt. This opinion I expressed
in January, 1882, when in the Soudan, and subsequently very many times
since in England. It is a source of great satisfaction to me that so
eminent an authority as Sir Samuel Baker, F.R.G.S., entertains the same
ideas. As things now are, extensive cultivation in the Soudan would be
almost useless, the only means of exporting their products being by
the very slow method of camels to the nearest sea-port; taxes would
increase, and the only people who would derive any benefit would be the
Egyptians, not the Arabs. If we ruled there we would appoint an English
governor, who would let the Arabs live on their own industry, if they had
any, and, if not, bring the fallaheen there, and take only a reasonable
share of taxation. We should put down a railway from Souâkin to Kassala,
from there to Massawah and elsewhere. We should sink wells, and erect
engines which would pump up sufficient water to irrigate thousands of
acres of the most fertile land. These lands require no manuring, nothing
but clearing, scratching the rich alluvial deposit, and putting in the
seeds. The crops when gathered could then be transported by rail to
Souâkin, which would soon become a flourishing port, could, in fact,
be transferred direct from central Africa to any English port within
three weeks or so. Senna, coffee, tobacco, cotton, sugar, flax, dhurra,
wheat, oats, oranges, lemons, and I don’t know what, could be grown
there without the least trouble, besides which, hides, honey, beeswax,
and other things would be abundant. I was so struck, soon after we left
Kassala, with the immensely fertile appearance of the soil, and the vast
extent of country capable of cultivation, and of producing two crops a
year at least, that I mentioned this to Mr. Colvin, as we rode side by
side on our camels, afterwards making a note of the same in my diary.

Every night of our stay at Kassala the monotonous beating of the tom-tom
would commence about 8 p.m. and continue incessantly till about twelve,
accompanied by the most extraordinary shrill trilling note of a female
every now and then. It seems there had been a death in the family,
and on all occasions of great joy and sorrow this unpleasant musical
entertainment is at once provided. Mosconas tells me that, after a
death, the mourners go on in this kind of way every night for about a
month, and a very irritating performance it is to our untutored English
auditory nerves. We found the white ants very troublesome here. They are
very destructive little insects, and, I believe, will destroy everything
but iron and stone. If a strong, solid, leather portmanteau be left on
the ground for two or three nights, they will destroy it, but if two
stones, sufficient to raise it an inch or two from the ground, be placed
underneath, they will not touch it, and if we encamp on sand we are safe
from them. They destroyed all the matting laid down in our tents during
the few days that we were here, although it was taken up and beaten every
day. Scorpions as well as white ants were frequently found underneath the
matting. This is very cheap, indeed; we therefore secured a fresh lot.



CHAPTER XIII.

    LEAVE KASSALA—CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY—MEET BENI-AMIR ARABS ON
    THE RIVER BED—THE BAOBOB TREE.


All being ready, we started off from Kassala at 3 p.m. on the 17th
January, intending to reach Heikota within three days. We encamped at
8 p.m., and next day were off at 9 a.m., marching until 6 p.m.—temp.
90° in shade. Fine trees became more numerous; the country looked much
greener, and water was usually obtainable every day simply by digging
a few feet in the sandy river-bed. This day we passed through a large
field of dhurra. To guard this from elephants, birds, and buffaloes
several platforms were erected in different parts of the field about
10 or 12 feet high, and on these boys and men spent the whole day
unsheltered from the scorching rays of the sun—which was like a ball of
fire—cracking whips and uttering hideous noises. We came across distinct
and recent tracks of a lion, two full-grown and one young elephant. I
also saw a few monkeys, a musk cat, several young tiger-cats and hundreds
of guinea-fowl. We shot on the march one eagle, two ariels, and two
gazelles; the latter are not so hard and dry as those in the desert.

[Illustration: THE KASSALA MOUNTAIN.]

On the 19th we made the usual march, encamping at Ashberra. The general
character of the country has now become much more varied and interesting.
This day we travelled through tall grass, about 10 feet high, for a
long time—perhaps an hour. When we got out of this we found ourselves
encountering the prickly thorns of the mimosa and kittar bushes. We had
now done with caravan routes entirely, and my camel-riding capabilities
were fully tested as I go up and down hill; now over rocky hills, down
steep banks and across dry river-courses, then through a forest of dhoum
palms, dodging as I go the great projecting strong branches, which appear
strong enough almost to decapitate or sweep me off my camel. Then, by
way of variety, we pass through a mile or two of the horrid cruel thorns
of the mimosa and kittar trees, which every now and then bury themselves
in my flesh, and tear my clothes and helmet as I duck my head to avoid
having my face lacerated. The camel, of course, walks on in the most
unconcerned manner, just as if he was on open ground, taking no notice
whatever of these obstructions, but brushing past them as if they were
twigs or straws. Everything, even the smallest of the mimosa tree, is
armed with long, strong, very sharp thorns. Each thorn is as sharp as a
needle and about an inch long; indeed, the native women use them as a
cobbler does his awl, and I have often seen a woman using the thorn to
pierce a girba and shreds of the palm leaf to sew it up with. The thorns
of the kittar bushes are quite semicircular in shape, very near to each
other, not long but very strong, and each successive thorn crooks in a
different direction to its predecessor—one crooks up and the other down.
When they catch hold of anyone they stick to him as close as a brother.
If my clothes get entangled, I must stay and pick myself out, or if I
elect to go on without doing so, I must submit to having my clothes, and
perchance my flesh, effectually torn across. We saw _en route_ a great
many baboons, vultures of course always, eagles, thousands of doves,
guinea-fowl, and recent tracks of elephants, lions, and leopards. Mr.
Phillipps and I, whilst stalking some gazelles in a large palm-grove,
lost the caravan for hours, and just as we emerged from it on to the
wide river-bed of the Mareb we came upon a large number of the Beni-Amir
tribe in that semi-nude condition, which is so fashionable amongst them,
watering their goats and cattle. We dismounted and joined the sable
throng, made them understand that we should like some goat’s milk, which
they gave us, after which we showed them our pocket and hunting knives,
revolvers, and watches. We were at once surrounded by an admiring throng
of our new acquaintances, who seemed greatly pleased with what they saw,
but when I applied my watch to the ear of one his surprise and delight
was immense, for he had never in his life seen a watch before. The
ticking tickled him greatly, so much so that he pushed all his friends
forward one after the other to participate in his joy. However, as the
long bushy hair of these fellows was streaming with fat, I observed
caution.

January 20th.—We were off at 9.30, and had not far to go ere we reached
Heikota, where the Beni-Amir tribe then lived. This was the shortest
march we ever made, for we arrived there at 11 a.m., amongst the most
luxuriant vegetation, encamping just by a huge baobob tree (_Adamsonia
digitata_), 51 feet in girth. Large as this may seem, it is not by any
means as large as they grow—they are frequently 60 to 85 feet in girth.
The trunk is not above 12 feet high ere the branches are put forth. The
flowers are in proportion to the size of the tree, and followed by a
fruit about 10 inches long. This looks like a greenish pod or capsule,
having a bloom on it such as we see on a plum; on breaking the capsule
we find a large number of granular-like substances very much resembling
pieces of white starch packed closely together, which have an agreeable
sub-acid flavour. When this white substance, which is very thin, is
dissolved, and it does so readily in the mouth, we came to a dark,
brownish little stone, very much like a tamarind stone in appearance,
but smaller. When dry, the pulp, by which the seeds are surrounded, is
powdered and brought to Europe from the Levant, under the name of _terra
sigillata lemnia_—the seeds are called _goui_.



CHAPTER XIV.

    ENCAMP AT HEIKOTA—SHEIK AHMED—HERR SCHUMANN AND HIS ZAREEBA—WE
    MAKE A ZAREEBA—THE MAHDI—EXCITEMENT IN THE VILLAGE—HORRIBLE
    TRAGEDY—SHEIK AHMED DINES WITH US—THE MAGIC LANTERN—LIONS VISIT
    US.


Ere we could pitch our tents we had to cut down a number of young palm
trees, and clear away a quantity of tall grass, &c. Whilst doing so Sheik
Ahmed, of the powerful Beni-Amir tribe, who paid us a visit, gave us
a good deal more of manual labour by advising us to make a zareeba (a
fence of prickly trees), assigning as a reason, and a very substantial
one, the fact that lions came down every night, and often made such a
noise as to disturb his slumbers, but that we had nothing to fear from
his tribe. He said further that boa-constrictors and scorpions were very
common, leopards also. We found traces of the latter whilst clearing.
Sheik Ahmed, or Achmet, is said to be one of the most powerful Sheiks
in the Soudan; he certainly was far and away the best sample of a Sheik
that I have seen anywhere. His head was kept shaved; on it he wore a
tight-fitting white skull-cap. He was almost black, and of a determined
aspect, but his features were good, and his teeth white, sound and
regular; his eyes were keen, black and glittering as a hawk’s; he was
dressed in spotless white and scrupulously clean; quick in action,
thought, speech, and appearance. One might almost say really that he was
an educated man, for he could both write and read, and certainly looked a
remarkable, shrewd, and intelligent man. During the piping times of peace
he could be a merry fellow of infinite jest; and he and I cracked many
a joke together by the aid of an interpreter. He could also be a fierce
warrior when necessary, and bore marks, some deep ones, too, of many a
skirmish he had been engaged in. “Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but
being in at it, bear thyself, that thine opponent may beware of thee.”
The latter half of this proverb, I think, would be quite applicable to
our friend, Sheik Ahmed, as all his wounds were in front; the first
part, I fear, he would be rather regardless of, probably, indeed, more
of the temper of an Irishman handling a shillelagh at Donnybrook fair,
exclaiming—“Will ye jist thread on the tail of me coat, now?” And I
assure you, reader, that had you known Sheik Ahmed you would hesitate
ere you trod on his caudal appendage, if you discovered it. I have heard
that he is one of the most powerful vassals under the Khedive, and that
should occasion require he could put in the field about 10,000 horsemen
and tribesmen.

These people, over whom the Sheik seemed to possess great control and
authority, are quite pastoral in their pursuits, and own such enormous
flocks and herds as would astonish any ordinary mortal. These are every
night driven in from grazing to a large zareeba on the river-bed. I was
irresistibly reminded here of the patriarchs of old. Here was this Sheikh
with four wives and I don’t know how many children, the leader or petty
sovereign of a large and powerful tribe, over whom he possessed absolute
power, and, as I said before, owning these flocks and herds. On the
river-bed of the Mareb the tribe, or a part of it rather, lived, their
dwellings simply consisting of a few stakes driven into the sand, over
and around which is a covering of tall grass and matting made from the
palm leaves. They live in this neighbourhood as long as there is anything
for their flocks and herds to eat; when there is not, like locusts,
they move off a few miles to pastures new. Then, when the wet season
commences, they clear off to the mountains or desert, else the tetse fly
would destroy the animals. They seem a contented lot, and may truly say,
as a deceased M.P. once said, “My riches consist, not in the vastness of
my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants.”

They live simply, on milk, honey, and dhurra principally, and to that
fact may be attributed the beautifully white sound teeth they possess.
I think I ought to say that the Sheik was good enough to ask me to stay
with the tribe for three or four years, and as an inducement was good
enough to say that if I would he would give me four wives, thus placing
me on a par with himself. However, I neither embraced this tempting offer
nor the sable females, and here I think the utterances of the deceased
M.P. would be peculiarly applicable. When the Sheik, who was very
friendly, left us, he accepted our invitation to dinner at 7 p.m. Quite
close to our camp was another zareeba; in this dwelt Herr Schumann and
his wild animals. He had, when we were there, three young elephants; two
females, and one rogue (the latter, being a rather fierce little fellow,
was chained by the leg), a few young lions, wild cats, leopards, and 15
young ostriches about the size of Dorking fowls.

_Apropos_ of the Mahdi, I find the following in to-day’s paper:

“April 2nd, ’84—An Austrian dealer in wild animals, writing from Kassala
to friends in Vienna, gives some information about the Mahdi, whom he
knows personally, and with whom he has frequently transacted business,
the Mahdi himself having for years past dealt in wild beasts for the
different European Zoological Gardens. He is described by the writer
as a very cunning impostor, and as an instance, it is related that a
short time ago he suddenly appeared with a number of warts on his right
cheek, these having been artificially produced by the aid of a German
called Schandorper, formerly a clown, and afterwards a hairdresser, now
in the service of the Mahdi. The reason was that the legends about the
expected Mahdi speak of him as having such marks. Like the beasts he
formerly dealt in, the Mahdi sleeps in the daytime and transacts business
during the night.” I have no doubt whatever that our old acquaintance,
who was the only animal collector I ever met with, is the author of the
preceding, and I think a very credible man.

In the evening, just before dinner, we heard near our camp a great number
of women and children, accompanied by the inevitable beating of the
tom-toms, and that wild, peculiar trilling note of a woman to which I
have before alluded. Being desirous to find out as much as I could of the
habits and customs of these people, I got Mr. Colvin to accompany me to
ascertain the cause. We went and found a great number of women shouting
and chanting, whilst a number of their braves were executing a war dance
with spear and shield, others in the meantime sharpening their spears.
Of course we were at a loss to account for the extreme activity and
evident war-like preliminaries, and returned to camp not feeling certain
whether these sharpened spears would not on the morrow make unpleasant
incisions in our intercastal spaces—at least Mr. Colvin, who was a very
facetious and witty fellow, humorously suggested this. On returning
to camp we passed Herr Schumann’s zareeba, and told him what we had
witnessed, asking him the meaning of it all. He narrated the following
tale of blood: The day before our arrival at Heikota, when we were in
the immediate neighbourhood, probably about the time we were encamping,
a number of the Basé people from the village of Sarcella had come upon
the children of the Beni-Amirs driving the flocks and herds in for the
night. They then perpetrated a deed which makes one shudder to think of,
for they were not satisfied with simply slaughtering these unoffending
children, but doing so in a most horrible manner; in short, they ripped
them open with their knives, and drove off about 2,000 head of cattle. In
consequence of this the Sheik had given the word to his men to prepare
for action, and they were now doing so, intending to make an attack on
the village of Sarcella in the morning.

In the evening we had a champagne dinner; the Sheik studiously avoided
the champagne, and had the shocking bad taste to prefer raspberry vinegar
and water. Herr Schumann also joined us, but, like a Christian, partook
of champagne.

We pretended not to know anything of this slaughtering business, so asked
the Sheik what was the reason of all the commotion amongst the tribe. He
related the same story, adding that he should get his men together in
the morning and attack these Basé (that means kill all they could lay
their hands on) and get his cattle back again. How ably he carried out
his destructive intentions I will tell the reader later on. The customs
are somewhat peculiar in this part of the world. Supposing I and my
party, who are not Beni-Amirs, enter the Basé country from the Beni-Amir
tribe, and they should be at enmity with them at that time, they would
regard us as enemies. Knowing this, we told the Sheik we were very sorry
this had occurred just now, as we intended to explore that country,
and his fighting might make it a very difficult, if not impossible
matter to do so. However, with the true instincts of a gentleman sheik,
he accommodated himself to all parties, very readily acquiesced in our
views, and was good enough to postpone his bloodthirsty intentions for a
few days.

After dinner we chatted round the camp fire for awhile, smoking the
“calumet of peace,” to use a Cooperian phrase, and retired to our
different tents to rest 9.30 p.m. The Sheik, ere he left us, accepted
an invitation to breakfast next day at 7 a.m. If we are late birds in
England, we are early ones in the Soudan.

January 21st.—True to his appointment the Sheik breakfasted with us this
morning. He was not only punctual, but he literally _did_ breakfast;
there was no finiking and fiddling about with his food, for he disposed
of it in a most straightforward manner. Imagine an opening in the
pavement for the reception of coals, and you have a pretty good idea of
the rapid disappearance of food down the œsophagus of our friend. We
commenced with porridge and milk; a dish evidently highly appreciated by
the Sheik; then we had minced collops, kippered herrings, gazelle, stewed
kidneys, wild honey, French jam and coffee, to all of which Sheik Ahmed
did ample justice. After breakfast many warriors drop into camp, and,
in their fashion, squat round in a circle on their haunches. One of the
spears was covered with leather as a sign that they were at peace with
us. A great and long pow-wow ensued as to our future journey; we should
want to buy or hire camels for going through the Basé country, as those
we had hired at Kassala would have to return from Heikota.

Last night we were rather disturbed by the noise of lions, and this
morning, within about a dozen yards of my tent, I found their footprints,
fortunately outside the zareeba. I dare say I spent about an hour or
so at my tent this morning attending to a large number of natives, and
afterwards visited others in their own tents on the river-bed. In some
instances I was obliged to crawl in on my hands and knees. When I had
finished my morning’s work I took up my shot gun and strolled off in
quest of some beautifully plumaged birds which were abundant here and
brought home an eagle, paroquet, laughing-bird, falcon, and shreik, which
I skinned after luncheon.

We again invited Sheik Ahmed and Herr Schumann to join us at the festive
board at 7 p.m.; we also told the former to let his people know that at
about 8.30 p.m. there would be what they call a _fantasia_. Just before
7 p.m. the Sheik arrived and behaved himself in quite a gentlemanly
manner. He was dressed in spotless white, and was so particular as to
borrow a pen-knife from me to clean his nails with (a great instance of
the civilizing effect of Englishmen). Although we drank iced champagne
and claret, he stuck to raspberry vinegar and water, which he consumed
with great relish. He was rather clumsy with a knife and fork; indeed,
almost the only breach of manners that he perpetrated was to finish up
the repast (just before coffee was brought) by plunging the teaspoon
into the preserve, scooping out as much as it would conveniently hold,
conveying it to his mouth and replacing the spoon in the preserve; this
mode of eating has its inconveniences.

Another peculiarity of his was a singular habit that one requires to get
thoroughly accustomed to to really appreciate; he generally indulged in
it largely at meal times when conversing, and having his face directed
to the object of attack. I scarcely know how to describe it, and perhaps
ought not to do so in polite society, but that I wish to tell my readers
exactly what kind of a man this was. It was a method (not unfamiliar
even to English ears) of producing a peculiar vibration or concussion of
the atmosphere by a noise proceeding from the mouth; some polite people
would call it an eructation, but that is not sufficiently explanatory. It
is familiarly and vulgarly known as “belching,” and so frequently did it
occur at meal times that it became known amongst ourselves as “the genial
belch of the Sheik.” I suggested that probably it was a complimentary
proceeding on his part, but I must say if it was so we could readily
have forgiven this _too_ frequent formality. After dinner a great many
of his people assembled (no women, and very few children) to witness the
mysteries and wonders of the magic lantern, or _fantasia_. Would that I
had the pencil of an artist to delineate the picture which the _Graphic_
or any other illustrated paper would have been glad to have reproduced.
Here we were encamped in equatorial Africa; we had five tents pitched
amongst waving dhoum palms, tamarisk, and tamarind, nebbuck, baobob,
hegleek, ebony, and other trees, and the usual luxuriant growth of tall
grass and young palms. About three hundred of these dusky-skinned, almost
black, agile-looking fellows, wearing simply the tope or loin-cloth,
the foremost squatting on their haunches, the rest standing behind, the
Europeans in white clothing, and the picturesquely-dressed Sheik in his
white turban and robes. It was a weird, wild scene, when viewed by the
flickering light of the lanterns as they moved about the camp, but
when the moon shone out, shedding a soft, bright light on the scene, it
certainly was a most charming and interesting picture. Amidst it all
could be seen three hundred glittering spear-heads, making the picture
complete. How easily, had they been so disposed, could these wild sons of
the Soudan have made an end of us, but I am happy to say this ceremony
was not included in the evening’s programme. We placed a wet sheet across
the entrance to one of the bell-tents, and as the Queen (whom they called
the Sultana) the Prince and Princess of Wales, the elephant, lion,
rhinoceros, hippopotamus, giraffe, ostrich, crocodile (snapping his jaws
together), and other animals with which they were familiar, appeared on
the canvas, the delight of these grown-up children was manifested by loud
expressions of approval. When the Sheik, his retinue and people took
their departure, we further astonished them by letting off rockets and
illuminating their way with red and blue fire. If I went out there again
I should certainly take out a galvanic battery, which I am sure would
astonish and amuse immensely. We here engaged fresh camel-men, huntsmen,
horse-boys, and servants, at rather high wages, on account of the
rumoured ferocious character of the Basé, the Sheik taking a pretty good
share of the wages himself. All camels were bought, not hired; when we
wanted to hire we were cheerfully assured by the owners that we should
very likely all be killed by the Basé or Kunama people, and they would
lose their camels. The Sheik was presented with a capital bell-tent,
a rifle, and a good musical-box, which played six airs, others, with
razors, butchers’ knives in sheaths, topes, beads, knives, scissors,
small portable looking-glasses, &c., all of which were productive of
great wonder and joy. Sheik Ahmed, in return, sent us a present of ten
sheep and ten milk-giving goats, so that now we had sixteen goats, which
furnished us with plenty of milk every morning to our porridge. As we
intended resuming our journey on the morrow, we were all busy writing
letters to England, which Herr Schumann engaged to forward to Kassala.



CHAPTER XV.

    PATIENTS AT HEIKOTA—LEAVE HEIKOTA—GAME IN THE BASÉ COUNTRY—SEE
    OUR FIRST LION—A LION INTERVIEWS THE AUTHOR—TETÉL, NELLUT, AND
    OTHER GAME KILLED ON THE MARCH.


On the 22nd January we were up in good time, as there was a good deal
to be seen to ere we continued our march. We intended to return to
Heikota after exploring the Basé country, which we thought would occupy
about four or five weeks. It would not, therefore, be necessary to
take all our baggage with us; accordingly, a considerable quantity was
left behind in Herr Schumann’s zareeba until our return—assuming that
we should do so. I was, as usual, busily occupied after breakfast in
attending to my patients, who not only came from close by, but from long
distances on camels. It had got noised abroad from Kassala that there
was a “Hakeem Ingelese” travelling with these gentlemen, and whenever
we encamped anywhere for a day or two many patients came to visit me.
They appeared inordinately fond of my pills, and would swallow them
with as much avidity as boys in our country swallow lollipops. To judge
from what was expected of me, they must have thought that I was endowed
with almost supernatural powers. One boy was brought to me whose hip
had been dislocated a year or so before; another person who had been
positively blind from ophthalmia two years, hoped I could let in a stream
of welcome light: Alas! poor fellow, I could not make the blind see, or
the lame walk, under such circumstances. However, I was often able to
effect cures in some and relief in other cases, and when we returned to
Heikota many grateful patients came to thank me; one would give me some
dhurra, another a skin of milk, an Arab knife, a spear, a sheep, and so
on. Gratitude even is pleasing to a doctor, although sometimes a scarce
commodity. We did not succeed in making a start until 4 p.m.; halted at
six. The Sheik, who came part way with us, on returning to his tribe,
said he would join us in the morning, and see us well on the way ere
he interviewed the Basé at Sarcella, whom he had an account to settle
with. During our various conversations with him he informed us that we
should find abundance of shooting of every kind in the country—elephants,
lions, leopards, porcupines, wild cats, hyænas, buffaloes, jackals,
giraffes, ostriches, rhinoceros, antelopes of different kinds, gazelles,
oterops, ariels, maarifs, mehedehét, tetél, nellut, dick-dick, baboons
and monkeys; all kinds of birds; falcons, Egyptian hawks, rollo-birds,
paroquets, eagles, vultures, doves, quail, partridges, sand-grouse,
guinea-fowl, and I don’t know what besides—all of which was quite true;
there was really enough of shooting of every description to satisfy the
most ardent sportsman. He also advised us, when we got into the Basé
country, not to have our guns, rifles, and revolvers in cases, but ready
at a moment’s notice, night and day, and this advice we strictly followed
during the whole of our journey.

On the 23rd we marched nine hours, encamping at a place called Toodlook.
Our sleep was rather disturbed in the night by the noise of lions and
hyænas, which came very near the camp. We marched to-day through varied
scenery and pretty country—now along the Mareb, then for two hours across
country, through jungle, again coming on to the Mareb, across it, and
over a plain studded with trees and shrubs, finally encamping by the side
of the Mareb. Whilst our tents were being pitched, Messrs. A. and W.
James and I reconnoitred, soon coming near to a place where there was
some water. Suddenly we discovered, about two hundred yards from us, a
fine lion lying down on a little elevated land, no doubt on the look-out
for some unsuspecting antelope coming to drink. Mr. A. James ran back
to camp for his rifle, crept up, without arousing the suspicion of the
noble beast, and fired, but not being near enough, missed him. The lion
simply got up and calmly turned off into the jungle, where it was deemed
unadvisable to follow him. On our way back to camp we saw one place where
there had evidently been a desperate struggle between a lion and his
prey; the former evidently had the best of it, as we saw a long trail, he
having dragged his supper into some long grass and young palms.

On the 25th we were up and off in good time, leaving Suleiman and the
English servants to follow in charge of the caravan. Last night a
rather curious adventure occurred to me, which might have had a curious
termination. When we arrived at a camping-ground I usually selected the
spot for my tent, quite regardless of where the others were going to be
pitched. On this occasion I had done so, and ordered it to be pitched
under some trees close to young palms and tall grass, some distance from
the others. Suleiman remonstrated with me for doing so, saying that
the Basé or lions might come down in the night. However I would have
it so. Every day whilst we dined a large camp-fire was lighted, as the
nights were very chilly, although the heat was so great in the daytime.
Around this we smoked and chatted over politics, English friends and the
events of the day, and plans for the future, skinned birds or animals,
wrote letters, or posted up diaries. At half-past nine or ten o’clock we
gradually melted away one by one to bed. On this night I was the last,
having stayed to have an extra pipe. At last I lighted my lantern, was
walking off to, and had nearly reached, my tent, when I was startled by
a low growl issuing from a thick growth of young palms, about a dozen
yards from my tent; there was no mistaking the nature of the growl, and
I rapidly executed a retrograde movement, poked my head into the nearest
tent, calling out to the semi-sleeping occupants thereof, “I say, did you
hear that salutation just as I was going to my tent?” Answer by Mr. F. L.
James and Mr. Phillipps, “No; what was it, doctor? We were just going to
sleep.” “Why, it is a lion close to my tent, and there is no mistaking
it.” They laughed immensely, and seemed to think it a good joke, but
jumped up and came with me towards my tent, I think slightly incredulous.
Their incredulity was, at all events, quickly dispelled, as the lion, by
another louder expression of opinion, gave us distinctly to understand
that he was not only in unpleasant proximity to, but had his eye on us.
Again an _extremely_ rapid retrograde movement by the trio ensued, and
a joking remark from Lort Phillipps, “Doctor, you will be dragged off
to-night, as sure as fate,” and a consoling remark from Mr. F. James that
the lion was perhaps hungry. We seized some burning brands from the fire,
and piled on a large number of dried palm leaves in front of my tent. I
then retired to rest in peace, and when I arose in the morning my friends
were, I hope, pleased to find I was not in pieces. We heard both lions
and panthers in the night pretty near to us, but so long as they did not
visit the camp we did not care. In the morning at breakfast the Sheik
was highly amused by an account of my night’s experience, and extremely
jocular over it. This day we killed two tetél on the march, and caught
fifty-seven sand-grouse in a net, but only kept sufficient for dinner and
luncheon. One of our courses at dinner was an omelette of ostrich eggs.



CHAPTER XVI.

    WE ARRIVE AT THE BASÉ OR KUNAMA COUNTRY—THE VILLAGE OF
    SARCELLA—MURDER OF MR. POWELL AND PARTY—MY CAMEL AND I
    UNCEREMONIOUSLY PART COMPANY—THE FIRST BASÉ WE SEE—ENCAMP AT
    KOOLOOKOO—OUR FIRST INTERVIEW WITH BASÉ—THEY MAKE “AMAN” WITH
    US—THEIR APPEARANCE—DESCRIPTION OF KOOLOOKOO AND THE BASÉ
    PEOPLE—THEIR HABITS AND CUSTOMS.


From January 26th to 28th nothing of importance took place. A day seldom
passed without nellut, tetél, and gazelle falling to someone’s rifle. We
were all busy during leisure hours in writing letters for England, as we
should not be able to do so or receive any again until our return from
the Basé country to Herr Schumann’s zareeba, where Mr. James had arranged
all letters and papers from Kassala were to be brought. We often saw
baboons gambolling about, also tracks of elephants, lions, and panthers.
The Shiek says we are now in the neighbourhood of giraffes, ostriches,
and buffalos. This day he leaves us to fight or come to terms with the
Basé, and graciously condescends to act as our postman as far as Heikota,
promising to see that our letters are forwarded from there to Kassala.
He tells us that his men are at Sarcella, where they have about 1,000 of
the offending Basé shut up in a cave; they were now waiting for him ere
they took any further action. What transpired we did not learn until we
returned to Heikota. That I will describe when we return there.

January 29th.—We are now in Basé territory. We have for days past done
with caravan routes or paths, and travel over rocky mountains, large
plains, jungle, river-beds, and through a forest of tamarind, tamarisk,
palm, baobob, nebbuck, hegleek, and mimosa trees. On the branches of the
latter we frequently saw lumps of gum arabic, as large as walnuts, which
had exuded through the bark.

At 4 p.m. we saw a Basé village on fire, and rightly surmised, as we
found out afterwards, that the Beni-Amirs had been the authors of this.
Just after breakfast, before the camels were brought, we shot eight
partridges and ten quail, which were handed over to the cook. Some were
prepared for dinner, and some for luncheon next day. We also shot on
the march a buck tetél; the prime bit was, of course, reserved for our
dinner, and was more like roast beef than the flesh of any other animal
I tasted; the rest was given to our attendants. We encamped by the side
of the river-bed, where we found water on digging to the depth of 7 or
8 feet. Ere we could encamp we had to set to with axes and clear away
a number of young palms and mimosa bushes, make a zareeba, and before
retiring for the night look to our rifles and revolvers and see that we
had plenty of cartridges ready in case of emergency, as we flattered
ourselves that we were like the Bristol, Sheffield, or any other boys
in England who slept with one eye open. At all events we had heard
sufficient of this country to know that it would be unwise for us to
be caught napping, especially as we noticed some of the natives spying
about soon after we had pitched our tents. About mid-day we sighted the
village of Sarcella, the inhabitants of which Sheik Ahmed had gone to
interview, and whom Suleiman designated as “a very bad peoples.” There
is very little doubt that Suleiman was right, if all we heard about
them was true, for in 1869 or ’70—I am not sure which—Mr. Powell, wife,
little boy, and all the Europeans were spitted on their long spears.
They now lie buried in Bassaleg churchyard, near Newport, having been
brought home by his brother, Mr. Powell, M.P., who fearfully avenged his
brother’s death. Whilst I was in the Soudan I saw by a newspaper which we
got, that this gentleman lost his life in a balloon.

January 30th.—Made a short march to-day, namely, from 10.30 a.m. until
4.30 p.m., encamping at a place called Wo-amma, playfully christened
and ever afterwards known as “Whoa Emma.” The country was to-day very
mountainous and difficult for the caravan, to say nothing of ourselves.
I distinctly recollect that on this very day, whilst travelling along
a plane, one of the horse-boys came trotting quickly along, causing
my camel not only to shy, but to bolt when I was quite unprepared for
any such _contretemps_. A spectator would, doubtless, have been much
amused. I was not. For the space of about 20 yards I bounded like an
india-rubber ball on the makloufa; then came suddenly to grief from
my lofty elevation, the distance from the camel’s hump to his feet
being considerable. I fell with a regular bang on to my hip, which
felt very painful for some days afterwards, and had the mortification
to see my belongings gradually parting company with the camel—my rug,
then my satchel, a basket, zanzimeer, &c. The camel was caught after
some trouble, whilst I and they were gradually picked up, I with rage
in my heart, for this camel, being a bolter, had served me several
scurvy tricks before; for instance, if we came to any little declivity,
the beast would persist in making a trot of it, greatly exciting my
apprehensions. Again, when we came to a narrow pathway I would duck my
head where there were overhanging boughs of prickly shrubs; he, thinking
I was going to thrash him, would at once bolt, and when he had rushed
through I should find my head and hands were like a pincushion. I could
then knock my helmet out of the trees and at my leisure pick out the
horrid thorns with which my head and hands abounded. Once I was nearly
swept off the wretched beast as he bolted in this way. A strong chain of
cactus was across our way, catching me in the middle. I saw the danger
in time, and clutched hold of the makloufa with all my might, on I might
have been found suspended amongst the trees. It broke, fortunately, and
I escaped, but I never shall forget how angry that camel frequently made
me, what self-restraint I was obliged to exercise, for if I chastised
him he would bellow and bolt again, to my great danger and annoyance.
I had in England extracted many human teeth in my time, but this day
I extracted an elephant’s tooth, and brought it home as a curiosity.
However, I think I ought to say the elephant was not alive, and that on
the march we passed the skeletons of two others, which, I have no doubt,
furnished some excellent repasts for the natives. These were not all we
passed calling for notice, for some of our men came upon two of the Basé
people; the first sample of these curiosities we had seen. One was in
a baobob tree gathering the pods and throwing them down to the other,
who was collecting them in a basket. These so-called ferocious savages
appeared terribly alarmed when our men came upon them. The one on _terra
firma_, with the true instinct that “self-preservation is the first law
of nature,” bolted like a shot, but our men captured him. The other
was afraid to come down until one of the English servants discharged
the contents of one barrel of his rifle, and let him know by the aid
of Beyrumfi, our interpreter, that the contents of the other would be
lodged in his frail tenement of clay unless he was more sociable. This
persuasive kind of argument appeared very effective, for down he came,
and I am sure both he and his companion, who, doubtless, were accustomed
to be hunted like wild beasts, were agreeably surprised when they each
received a pocket-knife and a bit of bread and meat. Remembering the
injunctions of Sheik Ahmed, and with Powell on the brain, we took
precautions against surprises—set to work and made a zareeba round the
camp, lighted camp fires, and looked well to rifles and revolvers. The
latter we kept under our pillows; the former at the heads of our beds,
ready at a moment’s notice. Sentries were posted, and occasionally
relieved, whilst one of us (whoever chanced to awake) went round to see
that they were doing their duty. The man who was not, felt unhappy next
morning, as he received an intimation from the coorbatch before breakfast
that there had been a certain dereliction of duty on his part.

January 31st.—We marched eight hours to-day, encamping at Fodie on the
dry river-bed, close to some wells. This was a very fatiguing march
for the caravan, on account of our luggage, which was much obstructed
by trees. We travelled through quite a forest of these. Where there
were no trees the grass had been burnt for miles round. Many quail and
sand-grouse were shot to-day.

February 1st.—After a short march of four hours only, we encamped on
the broad, sandy river-bed of the Mareb, very near to the village of
Koolookoo, which we could see high up amongst the rocks of a mountain
on the opposite side. Each side of the Mareb was plentifully lined
with overhanging trees of all kinds, and amongst the twigs of some
could be seen many hundreds of the beautifully constructed nests of the
weaver-bird. Not very far from the Mareb, at the base of the mountain, in
which these Basé at Koolookoo lived, were the remains of a mud house in
which Mr. Powell had once lived. This was, I believe, as far, or nearly
so, as he had penetrated.

The Kunama, or Basé country, is quite a _terra incognita_, and, as far as
we could ascertain, we are the first and only Europeans who have explored
that country at all. This being so, I shall expend a good deal of time in
saying all I can about this country and people. We shall have to thank
Messrs. W. D. James and Percy Aylmer for a map of that country, and also
for some photographs of the people and scenery, which will be found in
Mr. F. L. James’s book. This book I have not yet read, and shall not do
so until my own is in the publisher’s hands, for fear I may unwittingly
adopt any of his theories or expressions, but rather prefer to be
perfectly independent of it, and give _my own_ ideas and description
in my own way, be they good, bad, or indifferent. No two men agree on
any subject, and it is _very_ probable that Mr. F. L. James and I may
materially differ on _many_. So that I shall not be termed a copyist, I
shall neither reproduce the map or photographs, but trust to sketches
taken to the best of my poor ability, but which, I hope, will convey
a pretty good idea of the kind of place and people that we sojourned
amongst for a while. Very well, then, after this exordium—probably the
longest I shall make—I will continue my narrative, as the dog would say
of his caudal appendage.

This was the first Basé village we had come to, and ere we could go any
further it was necessary that we should interview the Shiek of this
village, and explain the object of our visit. We made an ostentatious
display of our rifles and guns, twenty-four in number, and placed them
against the bank ready for immediate use if necessary, whilst each of us
sported a six-chambered revolver in our waist-belts. When we had—as we
thought—taken sufficient precautions against surprises or treachery, we
were curious to see these much-dreaded savages, whom report said were
capable of any sanguinary deed (could, in fact, murder with a smiling
face), and although their neighbours lived on their borders, they
appeared to know little more about them than we did ourselves. Whilst
we lunched within easy reach of our rifles, we sent forth one Beyrumfi,
“our guide, philosopher, and friend” (and the only man who knew anything
of the language) to the village. When we had finished our luncheon, we
got our field-glasses, and on the very summit of the rocky mountain
we saw all the women and children, and a few of the men, looking down
on us. Half an hour afterwards, winding round by a circuitous pathway,
on sloping ground, and occasionally hidden by trees, we could now see
Beyrumfi, accompanied by seven or eight of the Basé, each carrying his
spear and shield. When they appeared on the edge of the river-bed in
single file, headed by Beyrumfi, the Sheik’s son (a fine, strapping,
well-made fellow, who took his father’s place during his absence) dropped
his shield, and, without stopping, drove his spear quivering into the
sand; his example was followed by all the others. They all marched
briskly across the river-bed, whilst we, in our English fashion, stood
up and shook hands all round, which, under such circumstances, was much
more agreeable than kissing all round. Sheik junior, if I may call him
so, was about 5ft. 10in. in height, as straight as a dart, and not by
any means over-dressed, for he wore nothing but a bit of soft leather,
very much the shape and size of a man’s bathing drawers. He got the
twig of a tree and broke it with us as a sign of friendship. All then
squatted round on their haunches, with their knees under their chins
(their customary mode of resting themselves), and Beyrumfi explained the
object of our visit. This was satisfactory. The Sheik then borrowed a
two-edged sword from Beyrumfi, placed it on the ground with the point
directed towards us, put his _naked_ foot on it, and delivered a short
harangue, the purport of which was that we were in his country now, and
as long as we remained neither he nor his people would harm, but do all
they could to assist us, and that we were now his brothers. However, he
could really only speak for his village. This is what is called making
“Aman”—that is, swearing peace and friendship, and that we will trust
one another; but we didn’t. On hospitable thoughts intent, we ordered a
large bowl of cooked meat; our new acquaintances soon squatted round, and
judging from the rapid disappearance of the food, I should imagine that
a larger bowl would have done very well. We gave each of these fellows
small presents, amongst other things an empty claret bottle each, which
was much prized, but to the Sheik’s son we gave a few extra things, such
as a tope or loin-cloth, a razor, a knife in sheath, needles, pins and
thread, a velvet necklet, and a waistcoat striped yellow and black. He
at once invested himself with the order of the tope and yellow and black
waistcoat, to the great admiration of his friends, who continually made
a clucking noise with the mouth, just as we do to urge on a horse; from
their point of view it meant how wonderful, how nice, and what a swell
you are. The claret-coloured lead-capping of bottles, which had been
thrown on the ground, they gathered up, using them to decorate their hair
with, or as an addition to their necklaces. Our rifles and guns were
still leaning against the bank, just to show how well armed we were. Now,
finding the natives were so friendly, and that they had left their spears
on the other side of the river-bed, we ordered our rifles to be taken
into our tents; still, however, retaining our revolvers. Of course a long
pow-wow ensued. Whilst this was going on the women and children were not
idle in the village, for they stood out on various places of vantage,
looking down on their braves. We lent the Basé field-glasses to look at
them, and it was most amusing to hear their expressions of surprise,
with any amount of the clucking accompaniment, as they saw how near the
glass brought their friends to view. After a while they returned to their
village, upon which several of their friends, finding not only that we
appeared reasonable beings, but that we had given several presents,
paid us a visit, no doubt hoping that we would serve them in the same
way. Of course the wonderful Ingelese exhibited to all these visitors
their rifles and revolvers, accompanied by an elaborate explanation of
their killing powers. Beyrumfi explained all this amidst a shower of
cluckings. We had been told by Sheik Ahmed that the Basé were no better
than beasts, that they lived in holes in the ground and in caves; we
resolved to see for ourselves, and so told the Sheik that we would pay
him a visit on the morrow, which we did. They don’t absolutely live in
holes in the ground like rabbits, but where the rocks lean against one
another, or project out, forming an awning, they utilize these accidents
to convert such a place into a dwelling; they also have many well-made
huts. In these particulars they differ from wild beasts, but I think in
most other particulars they very much resemble them. As for their being
the ferocious savages represented to us, I must say that they appeared
more afraid of us than we were of them. I formed an idea that they had a
cowed, hunted look, and well they may have, as the Egyptians squeeze all
they can out of them on one side, and the Abyssinians on the other, and
the reason they live in such places amongst rocks difficult of access is
that if attacked, they can roll these rocks down on their assailants. The
attire of both men and women is extremely simple and scanty. The women
wear a short skirt reaching from the waist to the knees, most of them a
large ring in one nostril. Many of them are not bad looking; their black
hair is not profuse, but inclined to be frizzly; this is plaited down,
whilst bits of metal, brass rings or beads, are frequently interlaced.
All have lovely teeth. In stature they are rather short and when young
possess rather graceful, well-formed figures. Either beads, metal, or
some other ornament surrounds the neck, the arm, just above the elbow,
the wrists and ankles. Very many, both men and women (the Arabs as well),
have the scars of burns about the size of a shilling. I do not know
whether it is so in all cases, but in very many, if they are in pain in
any part of the body, they apply a hot iron button (technically known
as the actual cautery). A very common custom is to decorate the chest,
abdomen, and back (sometimes one of these, sometimes all of them) with
a series of little cuts, into which a dye called kohl is rubbed in.
Kohl is also, much used by the Basé to stain their eyelids all round,
which produces a bluish-black stain. Whilst speaking of this dye, I may
say that it is supposed this was the very thing which Jezebel used to
improve her personal appearance. The difference between the Basé men
and women in the matter of dress and ornaments is that the men, instead
of a short tope or skirt, wear a bit of thin leather round their loins
(like a rather scant pair of bathing drawers), and a scratcher in their
hair. I saw some moderately big boys attired in the most inexpensive suit
conceivable; namely, an anklet and bracelet of metal, and a bit of a
porcupine’s quill in the left nostril.

Speaking generally, the men are well-formed, agile-looking fellows.
These Basé people are quite hemmed in in their small country, on the
one hand by the Abyssinians and on the other sides by different tribes
of Arabs, with whom they appear to have little or no communication or
dealings, and if they venture out of their own country they are hunted
down by the Arabs just like wild animals. The Arabs of the Soudan are
darker than the Abyssinians, but the Basé are much darker than the Arabs
and speak a different language. The Basé are quite a different race to
their neighbours, and more nearly approach the negro type. They are
blacker than the Arabs, but not the coal-black of the negro; their hair
is shorter, more crisp and woolly, than the Arabs, but not the absolute
wool of the negro. The Arabs have good regular features, lips and noses
like our own; the Basé are the contrary, and more resemble the negro
in this respect and their high cheek-bones, but they are not nearly so
pronounced as the negro. Their foreheads, as a rule, are rather narrow
and receding. I was obliged perforce to depend on Sheik Ahmed, and
more particularly on Beyrumfi, for all the information I could glean
respecting these people. They say they have no religion. Sheik Ahmed,
speaking very contemptuously of them, says “that they have a rain-maker
who promises rain, when it is pretty sure to come; but if he makes
several promises and the rain does not come, he goes”—to that bourne from
whence no traveller shall return. In the little matter of marriage, their
laws and ceremonies are extremely simple, for they marry their sisters,
their daughters, their cousins, and their aunts, possibly their mothers
and grandmothers. Courtship is brief and primitive. A Basé man fancies
a Basé girl (presumably not his own daughter); he tells the nearest
male relatives so, father or brother—good; he then presents him with a
few yards of calico or some skins, the same also to his bride, and she
becomes his.

Now with regard to their diet. I cannot help thinking that this admits
of considerable improvement. As they are not possessed of large flocks
and herds like their neighbours, the Beni-Amirs, they have not much milk
or meat, neither have they so much dhurra as an article of diet. They
obtain meat occasionally when they can ensnare an animal; the _kind_ of
meat is rather a secondary consideration for they will eat the meat of
lion, panther, elephant monkeys, lizards, or giraffes with as much gusto
as that of antelope or buffalo. They are not so particular, either, as
they ought to be, for they consume all except the skin and bones. They
also eat the roots of young palm trees, the outer covering of the dhoum
palm nut, nebbuck, and hegleek nuts, the fruit of the baobob, wild honey,
and a certain, or rather an uncertain, quantity of milk and dhurra. They
do not indulge in baked baby, and I am quite sure that their carnal
longings are never satiated with cold or roast missionary, as there are
no missionaries there, but it has occurred to me that this place is
virgin soil for missionary enterprise, as there does not appear to be any
religion that requires eradicating from their minds.

In the evening of the 2nd February a dirty-looking old fellow (a sheik
from Aidaro), paid us a visit, bringing with him a gourd of wild honey
as a peace offering, made “aman” with us, and of course received his
presents.

I was much struck when visiting the village with their beautifully made
baskets; so closely woven are they as to enable them to carry milk or
water in them without a drop oozing through.



CHAPTER XVII.

    WE LEAVE KOOLOOKOO, ACCOMPANIED BY A NUMBER OF THE BASÉ—THE
    MAGIC LANTERN—SEE BUFFALO AND GIRAFFE FOR THE FIRST TIME—TWO
    BUFFALOS KILLED—A BASÉ FEAST—CURIOUS BASÉ DANCE—THEY DRY THEIR
    MEAT ON LINES IN THE SUN—A WOUNDED BUFFALO—HOODOO, CHIEF SHEIK
    OF THE BASÉ, VISITS US—A COLUMN OF SAND—A LEPER—THE BASÉ
    SQUABBLE OVER THE MEAT—WE ARRIVE AT ABYSSINIA.


On the 3rd February we made a further advance, starting at 11 a.m., and
encamping at 4 p.m., again on the river-bed, at Aibara. This day we
marched for the space of five hours through a forest; the heat was very
great, and the ground over which we travelled was full of large, deep
cracks, often two or three inches wide, caused by the contraction of the
earth, which had been subjected to a continuous baking by the hot sun
since the rainy season. Oftentimes could be seen the great footprint of
an elephant, now quite a moulded one, having been there since the rainy
season. On leaving Koolookoo we were accompanied by about 80 or 100 of
the inhabitants, having nothing with them but spear and shield. We knew
what this meant—that we should have to provide them with food—a rather
large undertaking considering that our own party, including camel-men,
horse-boys, and servants, numbered about 40 or 50. Accordingly a delicate
hint was conveyed to our new body-guard, that our own people would first
of all have to be provided with food; then if there was plenty of meat to
spare they would be quite welcome to it. To this arrangement they amiably
acceded. On _terra firma_ we could have made a good stand with our rifles
and revolvers in case of attack, but had these Basé thought proper,
at a preconcerted signal, to make an onslaught on our long straggling
caravan, I am afraid we should have fared very badly, notwithstanding
our being well armed. However, I think their principal reason for coming
with us was to have a continual feast of meat, an article of diet they
were capable of stowing away as capaciously as a lion would do, and with
as little ceremony. In the evening three sheiks paid us a visit, each
going through the ceremony of “aman.” After dinner the magic lantern was
exhibited, and this excited their astonishment even more than it did
that of the Beni-Amirs. I do not intend to go into a description much of
hunting-scenes, as they would occupy too much space, and I do not think
that the frequent repetition of such scenes would be interesting to the
generality of my readers; besides which I have no doubt Mr. F. L. James
has done this in his book. Suffice it to say that as there was abundance
of game of every description, scarcely a day passed without plenty being
brought into camp.

February 4th.—Off at 10.30 a.m., halt at 5 p.m.; pitch tents at
Maissasser, on the bank of the Mareb, and quite close to jungle. About 12
o’clock, as our camels were slowly winding along the bed of the Mareb,
a grand bull buffalo, an enormous beast, dashed right across in front
of us, raising quite a cloud of dust. This was the first buffalo we
had seen; at half-past 4 p.m. we saw three more, and just afterwards a
giraffe. There was a good deal of chuckling now at the prospect of sport
in store, and we resolved to encamp here for the next two or three days.
To-day we saw miles of country on fire. The country looks much greener in
this neighbourhood; trees and jungle abundant, and water much nearer to
the surface.

February 5th.—Last night, about 11 o’clock, just as I had gone to
sleep, I was considerably startled by several rifle shots, one after
the other. In an instant I was out of bed, rifle in hand, rushed out
of my tent in my slippers and night shirt, not knowing what to think;
the first idea naturally was that we were being attacked. Messrs. F. L.
James and Phillipps, who slept in another tent, were also out, clad in
the same airy costume as myself, and, like me, each with a rifle in his
hand. All this was the work of a minute—we had scarcely time to say,
“Whatever is the meaning of it all?” when close behind my tent, amongst
the thick stems of the tall grass, there was a sound as of a rushing
mighty wind. This was enough; the whole affair was explained at once;
we knew directly that this was nothing less than a herd of buffalos,
and I am very thankful that they just avoided my tent, which could as
easily have been upset by them as a box of matches. It seems that just
after we had gone to bed, the others, Messrs. Colvin, P. Aylmer, W. D.
and A. James, “from information received,” took their rifles (it was
a bright moonlight night) and stole out cautiously to the edge of the
jungle. There they saw a herd of buffalos drinking, and into it they
discharged their rifles with pretty good effect, for about 11 o’clock
this morning one of the herd was found dead in the jungle pretty near
to camp. A camel was sent to the spot to bring home the quarters for
food, and the head, of course, as a trophy. A great number of the Basé
were pretty quickly on the spot; then there ensued such a scene as I had
never before witnessed, and which almost baffles description. I will,
however, endeavour to describe it, as some of my readers might like to be
furnished with particulars. Invalids, persons of delicate organization
and others, might, however, like to omit this little account of a Basé
feast, which I assure them will not have an appetising effect. I may here
say that there is not the least occasion for me to draw on my imagination
and indulge in what some people facetiously call “crackers,” which I have
not and shall not do, as there is no necessity for doing so, there being
abundance of material of a strictly veracious character which I cull from
my diary, written carefully down at the time. Incredible as some accounts
may appear, I must ask my readers to accept these facts without the usual
formula _cum grano salis_. Very well, then, I will write down, and you,
reader, can read, mark, and inwardly digest (if you please) _without_ the
usual proverbial pinch of salt, a description of a scene that I was an
eye-witness of, and if I should somewhat interfere with your enjoyment,
when called from labour to refreshment, don’t blame me, but blame the
Basé. All I can say is, that this is not what incredulous people call “a
traveller’s tale,” but a “true story.” Do not say, “It strikes me that he
doth protest too much.”

I recollect to have seen somewhere or other a pamphlet entitled “The
Stomach and Its Trials.” That useful organ in the human body of Basé does
not appear to be subject to usual inconveniences, but accommodates itself
to circumstances, not unlike an india-rubber bag. The only trials I saw
them suffer was trying how much they could stow away without causing a
rupture of that viscera.

Well, to continue. As soon as the animal was opened they fell upon the
intestines like hungry wolves. Oh! such a scramble for tit-bits. There
were our dusky friends very soon ankle-deep in the viscera, and about
20 pairs of hands clutching at them. Two would perhaps get hold of the
same piece, and pull away like a couple of dogs, until a knife produced
a solution of continuity. Another group could be seen hacking away at
pieces of the liver, and cramming the warm, quivering morsels into their
mouths. One could be seen stuffing a lump of fat into his mouth with
one hand, the other at the same time would be industriously employed in
rubbing this adipose tissue into his hair. Another appeared to have a
predilection for kidneys; and so this disgusting feast went on, until
the whole interior of the animal was consumed, without such absurd
preliminaries as cooking.

One would naturally suppose that I should be busy at my medicine-chest
next day, but not one of them even so much as troubled me for a pill
afterwards. They might truly say, “We are fearfully and wonderfully
made;” and after this exhibition of digestive powers, I should be
obliged to coincide with them. When they had gorged themselves like
boa-constrictors, I should not exaggerate if I said that they presented
a most filthy and disgusting spectacle. Their proportions were quite
aldermanic, and their mouths, faces, and arms up to the elbows were
smeared with fat and gore. Had this buffalo lived a month or two longer
she would have become a mother.

We do not consider very young veal wholesome, but whether the Basé
thought this _very_ young buffalo would be a delicacy they must not touch
I know not; at all events it was brought into camp. We gave it the Basé,
who appeared quite pleased. In less than ten minutes afterwards we saw
three of them engaged in tearing it limb from limb, and eating it without
going through the formality of cooking. The quarters of buffalo, senior,
were divided between our men and Basé; the hide was cut up into sections
and given to the sheiks and others to make into shields.

Messrs. Colvin and Aylmer shot to-day two mehedehét. This is a very
beautiful antelope, possessing a very rough coat, a fine pair of horns,
slightly curved and annulated; is about 13 hands high, and in colour much
resembles the red deer. Messrs. F. L. and W. James stalked an ostrich for
two hours, but did not succeed in bringing him down.

We were encamped on a little plateau by the side of the Mareb, close to a
great jungle. On the opposite side of this wide river-bed were very many
trees of different kinds, and on both sides rocky mountains. Just by our
camp, on the sandy river-bed, the Basé were encamped. Notwithstanding
their mid-day feast on the uncooked internals of the buffalo, they were
ready and willing for another set to in the evening—this time of cooked
meat. Whether this second gorge had a stimulating and intoxicating effect
on them I don’t know, but just as we were off to our various tents for
the night, at 9.30 p.m., we heard strange noises issuing from the Basé
camp. Messrs. A. James, Colvin, and I were curious to ascertain the
cause, so down we went amongst them, and this is what we saw, and what I
have some difficulty in describing:—

All the Basé were engaged in a peculiar dance, four or six abreast, and
so close to each other as to be almost touching; those behind always
treading in the footsteps of those in front, whilst each one held his
spear aloft at arm’s-length. What they were saying I don’t exactly
know, but it was a dance of joy celebrating their feast of meat. A few
words as a solo would be sung, then all would join in chorus. This
went on for about half an hour; then they broke up and went through a
wild war-dance—now flying forwards and darting out their spears at an
imaginary enemy whilst protecting themselves with their shields, then
nimbly retreating, crouching and springing like wild cats. It was a novel
and singular spectacle to see nearly a hundred of these black savages,
with their glittering spears, agile as monkeys, leaping in and out
between about 30 flickering fires on the river-bed. Like the Pharisee of
old, I could not help (mentally) exclaiming, “Thank God I am not as these
men are.”

I then retired to rest, and slept peacefully and soundly until the
following morning.

February 6th.—Soon after breakfast we saw, stretched from tree to tree
near the camp, what appeared like clothes-lines with stockings suspended
on them to dry. The Basé had made ropes out of the palm-leaves, and on
these the meat which they could not then dispose of hung in strips and
festoons to dry. When dried, they would stuff them into gazelle skins,
or bags of some kind, for future use. To-day about 40 of them returned to
Koolookoo, well-charged with meat, both in their own skins and that of
gazelles; the rest remained with us.

This morning another buffalo, which was wounded on the night of the 4th,
was found, but not dead. He, however, received his _coup de grace_ from
Mr. Colvin’s rifle, but not until he had made a furious charge, though
so badly wounded, fortunately without any ill-results. A wounded buffalo
is about as dangerous and fierce an animal as can be met with, and will
charge most savagely if he is only within five minutes of death, provided
his limbs will support him. We had plenty of meat brought into camp, for
in addition to this buffalo, two nellut, a mora, and two buffalos were
shot. Temperature at 1.30, solar thermometer 150°, wet bulb 66°, dry bulb
in shade 90°.

This has been rather an exciting day, as Mr. W. James saw and stalked
three giraffes, but was not successful in getting near enough for a shot.
Sali, the tracker, saw three ostriches and a rhinoceros, the latter
pretty close to him, and I two full-grown elephants a distance off, but
none of them were bagged. No doubt had these elephants been followed up
for a day or so they could have been got at, but they were not. Messrs.
A. James and Colvin followed them up next day for many miles, but not
far enough.

February 7th.—Messrs. Colvin and A. James, who went in quest of the
two elephants, returned about 4 p.m., without having seen them. In the
evening Hoodoo, chief sheik of the Basé, paid us a visit, bringing with
him a pot of wild honey as a present. He went through the formality of
making “aman” with us, after which he squatted on his haunches in the
usual native fashion.

During a long pow-wow which ensued, I was busy making mental notes of
Hoodoo, not by any means complimentary to that august personage. He was a
dirty-looking old fellow, as scantily dressed as his colleagues, nearly
black, with an ill-favoured, sinister cast of countenance, and not by
any means a man whom I should place unbounded confidence in. He received
several presents, amongst others a bernouse and a rather gorgeous-looking
abia (a cloak-looking kind of thing), with gold braid ornamentation
around the neck. He seemed mightily pleased with these. He then joined
his comrades’ camp, and we went to our dinner.

This was rather a nice camping-ground, but quite unsheltered from the
sun by trees. However, we provided a shelter by cutting down some young
trees, fixing them in the ground and making a covering of matting, tall
grass, and palm leaves, which were obtainable close by. So great was the
heat now that the ink dried in my pen ere I could write three lines on
a page of foolscap. However, I was fortunately provided with Mappin and
Webb’s stylographic pen, which is really invaluable in such hot climates.
Always about 12 or 1 o’clock a slight breeze would spring up, producing
occasionally a very curious phenomenon. A very high column of dust
(perhaps half a mile in height) would come whirling and waltzing along
right through the middle of the camp, and so long as it was not hidden
by trees or mountains I could see it spinning on and on, looking in the
distance like a column of smoke. A good deal of sport was obtained in
this neighbourhood, chiefly buffalos and antelopes of different kinds.

February 8th.—We struck our tents and were in marching order by 11 a.m.
After an easy journey through some pretty good country, where vegetation
was abundant, we encamped at 3 p.m. on a nice bit of land by the Mareb
amongst many tall trees and shrubs, which afforded a good shade. Here
we purposed remaining for a week at least, as big game of all kinds was
plentiful, and here for the first time we found rhinoceros’ tracks. This
place is called Maiambasar, and is situated on the border of Abyssinia.
Water is near the surface here. During the journey I have noticed that
as we have got nearer to Abyssinia we have found the water nearer the
surface. We heard panthers, hyænas, and lions last night near camp, but
lions are not so plentiful as they were a few days ago.

February 9th.—Abdullah, a black boy, who looks after my camel, has been
walking very lame during the last few days, having considerable swelling
at the knee. I find he has a large abscess, produced by a guinea-worm. He
comes from Algeden, which is about five days from here between Kassala
and Souheet. He says guinea-worm is very common there and on the White
Nile.

Strange to say, all returned to camp in the evening without having
obtained game of any kind, although out all day. Mr. Aylmer, whilst in
search of game, suddenly came upon a rather curious scene. There, on
the mountain side, scarcely sheltered from the burning rays of the sun,
was an old man suffering from leprosy, miles away, apparently, from any
human being or habitation. Food and water had been placed near him, to
which he could help himself. Mr. Aylmer informed me that the surrounding
atmosphere was charged with the stench arising from the decomposed food
which was scattered around the place. I should say that most probably
that old man furnished a meal for one of the wild beasts ere long.

February 10th.—Two buffalos and two nellut killed this day. One, a bull
buffalo, was an enormous beast, and probably the hero of many a fight,
for one of his horns had been knocked short off, one eye knocked out,
whilst his forehead was covered with scars—evidently a disreputable,
cantankerous old buffalo. His carcase was given to the Basé, who were
well pleased with the donation. The Koolookoo Basé who came with us
through the country would, I daresay, have divided the meat amicably
between them, as their Sheik was with them, but their number had been
materially increased by other Basé.

In the evening, during the division of the spoil, just outside our camp,
a great difference of opinion prevailed as to _meum_ and _tuum_. Knives,
clubs, spears, and staves were freely brandished amid a chorus of yells
and shouts, ending in a scramble for the joints and pieces of meat.
Some of them secured a reasonable share, and trotted with it; others,
again, not so fortunate, would intercept a fugitive caressing, perhaps,
the thigh of the deceased buffalo. Then a desperate struggle would
ensue between them, five or six pulling away in different directions.
Fortunately all was settled without bloodshed, peace reigned in the camp,
and we all retired to our respective tents at a respectable hour.



CHAPTER XVIII.

    THE DEMBELAS ATTACK US, MAHOMET WOUNDED,—NARROW ESCAPE OF TWO
    OF OUR PARTY—ACTIVITY IN CAMP, WE MAKE A ZAREEBA AND FIRE
    THE COUNTRY—HOLD A COUNCIL OF WAR—OUR SILENT AND DANGEROUS
    RIDE—HOODOO’S SAGACITY—ARRIVAL IN CAMP OF MAHOMET, WOUNDED—WE
    RETREAT—MAHOMET’S DEATH AND BURIAL.


February 11th, 1882, was the most memorable day of the whole campaign.
Thinking it was not safe to leave the camp without protectors, Messrs. W.
D. and A. James and I remained in camp, whilst Messrs. F. L. James and
Colvin went out in one direction and Phillipps and Aylmer in another,
in search of big game. Each party went out mounted on ponies, which had
been bought for the purpose at Kassala and Heikota. Each party took an
agreegeer, or huntsman, a horse-boy, camel-boy, and camel with them, the
latter for the purpose of carrying home the game. They started soon
after 8 a.m., Messrs. Phillipps and Aylmer went in the direction of some
mountains on the Abyssinian border, whilst Messrs. James and Colvin took
the opposite side of the Mareb. We amused ourselves in camp in reading,
writing letters, or posting up diaries. Keeping my diary carefully and
correctly posted up day by day was a duty which I most religiously
attended to before ever I retired to rest, however fatigued I may have
been by the day’s march. Incidents and impressions written down at the
time are more likely to be correct than if left to memory. From my diary
I quote the following particulars:—

“About 1.30 p.m., just as we were about to sit down to luncheon, Messrs.
Aylmer and Phillipps came into camp looking considerably chop-fallen and
exhausted, and having only one horse between them. Of course we did not
expect either party home until 5 or 6 p.m., so I said to Aylmer—

“‘Hallo! how is it you are back so soon, and looking so precious serious?’

“‘I can tell you, doctor, this is no laughing matter,’ said he, ‘for we
have been attacked by the Abyssinians or Dembelas, and very likely they
will soon be down on our camp.’

“This certainly did look a serious business, especially as we had no
zareeba round the camp; so I said—

“‘Well, the best thing we can do is to have our luncheon at once; then we
shall be more fit for work.’”

The wisdom of this suggestion was apparent, and at once acted upon.
Whilst it was being brought I strapped on my revolver, brought out my
diary and entered the above conversation. Mahomet Sali and others were
at once sent out as scouts in search of Messrs. James and Colvin, with a
promise of five dollars each to those who brought them into camp. We then
sat down to luncheon, and the following account was given of this affair,
and was duly entered in my diary immediately afterwards, as we did not
know when we might be attacked, and I was desirous of leaving my diary
posted up complete to latest date.

Aylmer’s story:—“We had got about eight or nine miles from camp on the
sandy river-bed, quite in a hollow, precipitous rocks and trees on each
side of us, when suddenly about 30 strangers, who turned out to be
Dembelas, appeared. We thought they were Abyssinians, because they were
so much lighter in colour than Arabs, and, of course, quite different in
every respect from the Basé. Some of them seized our hands and commenced
kissing them profusely, exclaiming ‘Aman, aman,’ at the same time
beckoning us to lay down our rifles. Now, although we thought they were
friendly, we did not think it wise to be so confiding as this, until
Mahomet, the agreegeer (who, we supposed, knew more of the customs of
these people than we did), lay down his, beckoning us to do the same,
saying it would be better to do so. One fellow, wearing a felt hat, was
more demonstrative even than the others. Well, we followed Mahomet’s
example; no sooner had we done so (we had four rifles with us and about
50 cartridges) than they were immediately seized, and a struggle ensued
for their possession. The man wearing the felt hat seized a valuable
elephant rifle, vaulted on to the back of Mr. Phillipps’s horse and
galloped off. Attached to the saddle of that horse was his revolver, a
number of cartridges, and a field-glass. The horse-boy vanished like
smoke, whilst his horse was taken possession of by another of the enemy.
They attempted to spear the camel-boy, missed him and speared the camel.
Phillipps received a blow from the butt-end of a rifle which would have
prostrated him had not his helmet protected his head. He, however, turned
round, closed with his assailant, and succeeded in wrenching the rifle
from him. I pulled the trigger of my revolver, but on account of sand,
which obstructed it, I could not discharge it.

“In the hubbub which ensued Mahomet could nowhere be seen, and about 8 or
10 Basé (who had accompanied us, with the intention of having a feast and
cutting up the animal into quarters) vanished at once. We were now alone,
and by this time there were about 100 yelling demons brandishing their
spears, whooping and leaping about. Under such circumstances we thought
discretion the better part of valour, so we fled with one horse between
us, and have made the best of our way to camp, riding and walking by
turns.”

This really was very alarming news, and we quite expected that we should
soon be fully occupied in defending ourselves from an attack.

We now resolved to fire the country all round and construct a strong
zareeba. Before I fell to with the axe I once more sought out my diary
and chronicled the above. All then fell to with a will, cutting down all
the prickly trees in the neighbourhood, dragging them round the camp
and so forming a very strong zareeba. This was no joke when the solar
thermometer registered about 150°, and the heat was 100° in the shade.

Whilst we were thus employed the horse-boy made his appearance, streaming
with blood, his flesh being torn by the cruel thorns as he rushed
blindly on. We now set fire to all the tall grass and bushes in the
neighbourhood. The terrific speed with which it spread was surprising,
miles of country were soon in flames. The crackling of the grass and
trees resembled more than anything else the most fierce hailstorm I ever
saw.

Now the camel-boy turned up and this was his account of the affair:—Just
as he leaped off the camel he saw Mahomet on the ground, whilst one
of the Dembelas darted his spear at him several times; then left him
writhing. He went to his assistance, and helped him along some distance,
whilst poor Mahomet supported his intestines (which had gushed out) in
his tope. At last the poor fellow sank down under a tree, saying—

“I can go no further; I shall soon die. Save yourself; make haste to camp
and tell the gentlemen to make a strong zareeba at once as they will
certainly be attacked, probably to-night.”

By this time Messrs. F. James and Colvin, who had been found by the
scouts, arrived. We at once held a council of war, and determined not
only to go in search of Mahomet, but to attack the Dembelas if we could
find them, leaving two of our company in camp to command the men in case
of attack. All the neighbouring Basé, we found, had bolted—Elongi, the
Sheik from Koolookoo, and his men, alone remained, and promised to stand
by us and fight for us if necessary.

Our armoury consisted of about 22 shot-guns and rifles, and about a dozen
six-chambered revolvers. All the camel-men and native servants were
armed with spear and shield. Having provided ourselves each with rifle,
revolver, and cartridges, our two European servants; Suleiman, Ali, and
Cheriff also; we called up our native servants. To the most trusty of
these, including Beyrumfi, our guide, Mahomet Sali, Sali, the tracker,
and Ali Bacheet, the head camel-man, we entrusted the remainder of our
firearms, but unfortunately most of them had to be instructed in the use
of them.

I provided myself with a few bandages, lint, and my pocket case of
surgical instruments, and feeling that we were embarking on a very
perilous enterprise, left instructions respecting my immortal diary,
which would convey full information up to the time of our departure from
camp.

Just as we were getting into the saddle who should turn up but the Chief
Sheik, Hoodoo, who left our last camping place the morning after his
arrival. He _appeared_ surprised at all this commotion. Whether he was
really so or not I do not know, but I am sure, from the very first, I
did not feel that I should repose in him the trustful confidence of an
innocent child.

Our little army consisted now of Messrs. F. L. and A. James, Phillipps,
Aylmer, myself, six of our men with firearms, the Koolookoo Sheik, and 15
of his men with spear and shield. We started off, on what _might_ prove
to be our last journey, about 4 p.m. And I think we shall all remember
that silent ride of eight miles up the sandy river-bed of the Mareb to
Abyssinia, shaded often by trees which thickly adorned the banks. We well
knew, as we approached Abyssinia, that each bush may conceal an enemy,
who might at any moment spring out on us unawares, and knowing this,
each one clutched his rifle with a firm grip, ready for instant use, and
determined to sell his life dearly if the worst came to the worst. I felt
that our present position was something like that of Fitz-James, when he
held the interesting conversation with Rhoderick Dhu which Sir Walter
Scott so graphically describes—

    Instant, through copse and heath, arose
    Bonnets, and spears, and bended bows;
    On right, on left, above, below,
    Sprang up at once the lurking foe;
    From shingles grey their lances start,
    The bracken-bush sends forth the dart,
    The rushes and the willow-wand
    Are bristling into axe and brand,
    And every tuft of broom gives life
    To plaided warrior armed for strife.
    That whistle garrisoned the glen
    At once with full five hundred men,
    As if the yawning hill to heaven
    A subterranean host had given.

No one spoke above a whisper as we stole silently and quickly on, until
at last we arrived at the scene of the scuffle.

    It was a wild and strange retreat,
    As e’er was trod by outlaw’s feet.
    The dell, upon the mountain’s crest,
    Yawned like a gash on warrior’s breast.

Here, and in the neighbourhood, we searched about for Mahomet or his
assailants. We spent two hours thus unsuccessfully, until darkness warned
us it was time to return to camp.

    The shades of eve come quickly down,
    The woods are wrapped in deeper brown,
    The owl awakens from her dell,
    The fox is heard upon the fell;
    Enough remains of glimmering light
    To guide the wanderer’s steps aright,
    Yet not enough from far to show
    His figure to the watchful foe.

As we were returning, our attention was attracted to a large baobob tree
full of vultures. Sali and Mahomet Sali thought we might find Mahomet’s
bones, picked clean by these foul birds, near the tree. We, therefore,
searched that neighbourhood, but found him not.

Darkness had come on ere we had retraced our way any distance, and we
returned as silently as we had advanced, keeping well on the alert until
we neared the camp.

    In dread, and danger, all alone,
    Famished and chilled, through ways unknown,
    Tangled and steep, we journeyed on;
    Till, as a rock’s huge point we turned,
    Our camp fire close before us burned.

It was about 10 p.m. by the time we got to camp. Dinner was soon on the
table. This we at once discussed, also our plans for the next day. The
line of action determined on was this—sentries were to be posted about
the camp, and a few outside to guard against surprise. These, again,
would be looked after by Suleiman. We should load up in the morning, and
return to our former camp, first of all having another hunt for Mahomet.
We could not divest our minds of the idea that we ought to attack these
Dembelas if we could find them, and thought that perhaps our dirty old
friend Hoodoo would assist us with some of the Basé. Accordingly, whilst
seated round the camp fire after dinner, he was sounded on the matter,
and promised £100 if he would lend a 100 of his people next morning.
Hoodoo mentally said, “Hoo dont.” As a cautious look stole over his black
face he raised his eyes from the camp fire for a moment, stealing a
furtive glance at us; then, as he slowly shook his head, replied—

“I and my people will be here after you are gone, and if I was to do so
the Abyssinians would come down on us, burn our villages, kill our men,
and take our women and children as slaves.”

I assure you, reader, that when that old man shook his head he did not
shake all the sense out of it. There was a good deal of logic in his
remarks, and it is highly probable that had the old man accepted the
offer made, he and many of his braves would soon have been translated (to
use an orthodox phrase), and the merry dollars would have danced off into
possession of the Dembelas; therefore the old man “deserved well of his
country.” Indeed, his diplomatic action would almost entitle him to the
appellation of a grand old man, though he did not look it.

February 12th.—The stillness of the night fortunately was not broken by
the clash of arms, and I awoke, refreshed by a sound sleep, at 6 a.m.
Whilst we were at breakfast Mr. F. James proposed that we again ask Sheik
Hoodoo to let us have 200 of his men to assist us in making a raid on
the enemy, and if he would not, that we should send the caravan back to
the last camping place, and take about 20 of our own, as we were not at
all satisfied to leave poor Mahomet (who might still be living) to his
fate. Hoodoo was accordingly approached with the same result as before,
he adding—

“I am at peace with them, and I cannot make your quarrel mine.”

The old man was about right. Six camels had yesterday been sent to
Amadeb, a garrison town, for dhurra. We therefore had to divide their
loads with the remaining camels. When most of the camels had their loads
on, we told our men that we should want some of them to go with us. This
(with the exception of about half-a-dozen) they flatly refused to do,
saying that they were engaged as camel-drivers not to fight the Dembelas.
They were evidently bent on retreating from the Abyssinian frontier
whether we were or not. Suleiman, who knew these people pretty well, now
stepped forward—

“What good you gentlemen go fight Dembelas? You only six or seven, the
Dembelas hundreds. You do no good. Mahomet, he dead now, and the vultures
eat him. If you go, these men go off with their camels. How, then, we get
out of the country? The Basé and Abyssinians then turn round and kill us
all.”

This was good reasoning. Abdullah now brought my camel ready for
starting, so—pending the settlement of “to be or not to be”—I spread
my rug on the ground and lay down to read a book, with my rifle by
my side. It was now about 11 o’clock. I had not been here above ten
minutes when I saw everyone rushing across the camp, rifle in hand,
shouting—“Hakeem,” and “Doctor, doctor—quick!” I was up in an instant,
rifle in hand, and darted across in the same direction as the others,
naturally thinking—“The time has come at last. We are in for it now with
the Dembelas.”

It was not an attack at all, but a most pitiful sight. There was poor
Mahomet, who had managed to crawl into camp, then sank exhausted on the
ground. The poor fellow turned his large soft-looking eyes piteously on
to me. He was supporting with his hands and tope as much viscera—covered
with sand dried on it, and quite adherent—as would fill a good-sized
washing-basin. My rifle was at once dropped for my dressing-case; water
was obtained, the opening (made by a spear) slightly enlarged, the
viscera washed, replaced in the cavity of the abdomen, and the opening
secured by a suture or two. He was in a state of collapse, and death
pretty certain. He had also a wound in the fleshy part of the arm, and
two others in the muscles of the back, just by the spine. Whilst I
attended to these, some extract of beef and brandy was obtained, a fire
soon kindled, and a good supply of brandy and beef-tea, administered,
which soon revived him. An angarep was then rigged up, and twelve of
the Basé (six at a time) were told off at a dollar each to carry him on
to the next camp. I followed close by, giving him brandy and beef-tea
every half-hour; but all was of no avail, for he died at 9 o’clock next
morning. He was a Mahomedan. A tope as a shroud, with some needles and
thread, were given to the friends. They would not, however, use the
needle and thread, preferring the shreds of the palm leaf. A grave
was dug near the camp, and there the poor fellow was buried; Suleiman
remarking, “These Basé, they soon have Mahomet up; they not leave that
good tope there long.” And I have no doubt he was right in his prediction.

Mahomet’s account of the scrimmage, and his escape to camp, was this:
He stated that when the Abyssinians, or Dembelas, said “aman” it meant
“Put down your arms and take your lives; we are stronger than you, so
you must give up all you have.” He noticed that they were tremendously
out-numbered, so thought it was the best thing to do. When he saw Mr.
Phillipps trying to recover his rifle, another Abyssinian was about to
strike him with the butt-end of a rifle; he rushed to his assistance,
and it was then he received the fatal spear thrust in his abdomen,
causing him to fall down on the sand, where he received two or three
more, as detailed before. When everyone ran away, he tried to struggle
on, succeeding ere night came on in getting pretty near to camp by
alternately walking and resting awhile, until at last he sat under a
tree quite exhausted. He says that he both saw and heard us when we were
returning after our search for him, and that he cried out, but could
not make us hear. The greater part of the way to camp next morning he
accomplished by crawling on his hands and knees.

Who can imagine the sufferings of the poor fellow—out all night, sitting
with his back to a tree? He said he felt the cold very much; and well
he might, as, although the thermometer registered 101°F. in the shade
at 1 p.m., it dropped to 37° by 11 p.m. He passed the night in constant
expectation of a wild beast coming to tear him in pieces. We were very
glad that we had him with us during his last few hours, where he received
every attention that we could bestow.

February 13th.—Mahomet was buried, as I said before. Little was done
to-day; one nellut and three gazelles were shot.



CHAPTER XIX.

    MESSRS. JAMES AND PHILLIPPS START ON A VISIT TO
    RASALULU—CURIOUS WAY OF SHAVING CHILDREN’S HEADS—A DISGUSTING
    BASÉ—THE CAMEL-DRIVERS BECOME MUTINOUS—INTENDED ATTACK
    BY BASÉ—WE FIRE THE COUNTRY AND MAKE A ZAREEBA—ENCAMP AT
    WO-AMMA—TROUBLE AGAIN WITH CAMEL-MEN—LIONS DISTURB US—ARRIVAL
    AT HEIKOTA—A TALE OF BLOOD AND SLAVERY.


February 14th.—Made a rather short march, and encamped at Aibara, on some
table-land by the Mareb. Ere doing so we had to clear away a quantity of
mimosa bushes and young palms; then construct a zareeba. Mr. Phillipps,
at the request of one of the Basé, shot a monkey to-day. This was skinned
and eaten by them in the evening, and was, no doubt, looked upon as a
delicate morsel, probably as much so as grouse or partridge is with us.

February 15th.—This morning, at 9 a.m., Messrs. Phillipps and F. James
went off to Amadeb, to complain to Rasalulu, a deputy of King John of
Abyssinia, about our late attack, and endeavour to get their rifles back.
Whether they ever succeeded in doing so I don’t know; but I should think
probably not.

To-day we lost another camel; this makes the sixth we have lost in the
Basé country. A camel is a particularly stupid kind of animal, and does
not seem to know what is good for him, or rather, what is bad for him,
for he will frequently eat a very poisonous green-looking shrub, called
“heikabeet.” This appears to produce considerable pain, and, as far as I
could make out, inflammation of the intestines. I brought some of it home
with the intention of having it analysed, but somehow or other it has got
lost.

February 16th.—The Basé women and children, when we first came here, were
rather shy, and ran away from us as if we were monsters of iniquity; now
they appear to be getting quite tame, and are continually hanging about
the camp. The heads of the children are curiously trimmed, according to
fancy, just as they are at Kassala. All kinds of fantastical devices are
arranged, with the aid of a razor, just as a gardener operates on a box
bush in England. I have seen a child’s head shaved completely, with the
exception of a tuft of hair just over the right temple; another will have
a tuft on each side, whilst a third will have those and one on the crown
in addition; another will have several other little islands, and another
a tuft running from the forehead to the back of the head, just for all
the world like a clown in a circus, and so on.

Ali Bacheet to-day injured his foot with an axe. I bathed it, and whilst
getting a bandage one of the Basé diligently employed himself in sucking
it, then rinsed his mouth two or three times with the bloody water which
had washed his foot. This I thought was a somewhat nasty proceeding, but
I did not waste my breath in expostulating with these men of primitive
habits.

Five tetél were shot to-day. In the evening our men with the dhurra from
Amadeb returned.

February 17th.—Last night our camel-drivers, with their singing, and
hyænas howling and laughing, much disturbed our slumbers. This morning
the Basé here were very uneasy in their minds, being under the impression
that we had sent to Amadeb for Turkish soldiers. However, I think we made
them believe—what really was the case—that Messrs. James and Phillipps
had gone to lay a complaint about the Dembelas.

Just after dinner, whilst we were sitting round the camp fire smoking
the pipe of peace, the camel-men whom we had hired at Kassala came in a
body to us, saying they wanted to return to Kassala, stating as a reason
that they were afraid of the Basé and Abyssinians, they being so few
in number. We gave them distinctly to understand that we were neither
afraid of them nor the Basé; for the latter we had plenty of bullets if
they interfered with us, and for our camel-drivers who did so we had the
coorbatch, and so we dismissed them to chew the cud of reflection.

Two tetél shot to-day by Messrs. Colvin and A. James, and several
beautiful birds by me. We are passing a very peaceful and calm existence
at present, little to do except to amuse ourselves as fancy dictates.
Some go out on horseback in search of antelopes or buffalos; I generally
content myself just here with taking out a shot-gun after breakfast,
prowling round in quest of some of the beautiful plumaged birds which are
so numerous, and in the afternoon write up my diary and prepare letters
for post. After that read one of the many interesting books which we have
until 6 p.m., when we all have our evening bath, just before dinner,
which was always ready at 7 p.m. After dinner we sit round the camp fire
and chat over the social pipe, when some go to bed, and I skin and
prepare my birds to bring home.

We had a capital library with us, and were never short of most
interesting works, such as Macaulay’s Essays, Sir Samuel Baker’s “Nile
Tributaries,” Trollope’s, Dicken’s, Thackeray’s, Disraeli’s, and other
works.

February 18th.—A young baboon and a small monkey were captured yesterday;
this day they are quite tame, allowing us to stroke them without
exhibiting any signs of fear. Unfortunately the young baboon had been
injured in the thigh by a spear which severed the muscles, causing the
wound to gape very much. The flies annoyed him so much that I determined
to put him under chloroform, and bring the edges together by means of
two or three silver sutures. I therefore put him on the table, where he
lay as quietly and sensibly as any human being, looking up at me with
his nice brown eyes in a very human-being like kind of way. He almost
seemed to say, “I know it is for my good, doctor; don’t hurt me more
than you can help, and be quick about it.” He took the chloroform very
well, and when complete anæsthesia had been produced I relinquished the
post of chloroformist to an assistant, with suitable instructions. He,
however, was so intent in watching the operation that sufficient air
was not admitted with the anæsthetic, the result being that just as I
had finished putting in the last suture our poor little friend looked to
all appearance dead. I at once set up artificial respiration, but to no
purpose—the vital spark had fled.

Two Basé sheiks from Kokassie visited our camp to-day. They had a short
pow-wow both on their arrival and departure. They kissed our hands
profusely—overdid it, we thought; we were apt to look with suspicion on
an excessive manifestation of friendship.

February 19th.—Just after breakfast I picked up my gun, intending to
take a stroll in the neighbourhood, when Elongi, the Koolookoo Sheik,
taking hold of my arm, led me to Beyrumfi, to whom he communicated some
important information, which he in turn communicated to Suleiman in
Arabic, and the latter to me thus—

“You not go out this morning, doctor. The Sheik, he say, 300 or 400 bad
Basé have come about the mountains by us, and they come bym-bye to kill
us all.”

I regret to say that Suleiman’s indignation caused him to indulge in
profane language, and he expressed a strong wish to know “What the d—l
dese black rascals meant. We find them plenty meat; we give plenty
presents to them; we kind to them always, and now dey want to kill us
all.” Then, turning abruptly to Beyrumfi and a cluster of Basé, he opened
a box full of rifle cartridges, and very angrily said, “Tell dese black
d—s, and dey can tell de other Basé, that we will give them some of dese
bullets, and that we kill one, two hundred of dem in five minutes.”

Beyrumfi translated this pleasing intelligence to his hearers, who, in
due time, I dare say, passed it on. Elongi and his men swore they would
stick to us, and I believe they would; but for all that we did not allow
any Basé to sleep within our zareeba. We had become rather lax in the
matter of zareebas lately, and had not constructed one here; but I need
hardly say that on hearing this all in camp were soon set in motion, I
remarking what a fine field this would be for Mr. Gladstone to indulge in
his tree-felling propensities. He would have found some ebony trees well
worthy of his grand old arm.

We had a great deal of very fatiguing work for hours, not only in cutting
down and dragging in a sufficient number of trees to form our zareeba,
but also in felling young palm trees just round the camp. When all this
had been completed the country was set on fire. This quickly spread for
miles. In the midst of it all Messrs. James and Phillipps returned
from Amadeb much surprised at the activity in camp. We soon gave them
all the news, and I cannot say that we were altogether surprised at the
information we received in the morning, as we had observed a good many
camp fires in the night—all over the hills—where no camp fires should be.

February 20th.—Last night we went to bed, leaving sentries posted round
the camp, and well prepared to give a good account of ourselves should
the Basé have conceived the idea of attacking us. Perhaps Suleiman’s
timely admonition and explanation respecting the penetrating power of
our bullets deterred them; at all events we were not attacked, which was
satisfactory both to us and the Basé. Had they done so, I computed that
with our 22 rifles and guns, and about a dozen revolvers, protected by
our strong zareeba, we could have polished off about 100 of these poor
savages every five minutes, which would have been no satisfaction to
them or us. Looking at the matter again in another light, had they come
in sufficient numbers, or laid siege to the camp, we should inevitably
have gone to the bad, which would have been a decided inconvenience to
us, to say the least of it. Our comrades informed us that when they
arrived at Amadeb they heard that our late disaster had been telegraphed
to Kassala, Cairo, and, of course, to England. I then felt glad I had
sent a true version of the affair to England, knowing full well that
wild reports, of a most unreliable character, were more likely to get
abroad than true ones. From my youth up I have remembered the story of
the three black crows; also that David once made a very pungent remark,
“I have said in my heart all men are liars,” and Carlyle, “There are so
many millions of people in the world mostly fools.” However, respecting
the latter remark, I should say that—speaking from experience—they are
frequently not such fools as they look. The former remark was rather a
sweeping one, not _quite_ adapted to the present day.

To-day we moved on to Onogooloo, about two hours beyond Koolookoo. On
passing the latter place Elongi and many of the Basé remained behind, but
his father, a quiet, peaceable-looking old fellow, came on with us. This
was a short march of about seven hours only.

February 22nd.—This day, after a march of about six hours, we arrived at
our old camping placed, called by the festive name of Wo-amma, familiarly
known as Whoa Emma. There we found that, within the past 12 hours,
quite a drove of elephants had been past, and, of course, we were so
unfortunate as to miss them. The Basé are thinning off, but Elongi has
rejoined us to-day. To-day my rifle barrel was so hot at 5 p.m. that no
one could grasp it.

February 23rd.—Breakfast at 7 a.m. On the march at 10, and encamp at
Gebel-Moussa at 5.40 p.m. _En route_ we observed a large tract of country
on fire, and suddenly came upon a herd of buffalos, which raised a
tremendous cloud of dust. Of course we gave chase for a short distance,
and of course did not get near them, for they can go at a tremendous pace.

February 24th.—Life is more enjoyable, if we have some difficulties
to overcome occasionally, and succeed in doing so; and if we do not,
perhaps (speaking as a philosopher) it is better than having a quiet run
of prosperity. To-day, like the past few days, has been warm, 95° in
the shade. Our journey was short, namely, from 10 a.m. till 1.15 p.m.,
encamping at Abion. _En route_ we came across many elephant tracks, a
lion and lioness, and after that a lion, lioness, and three cubs, but did
not succeed in bagging any of them, but three tetél, a nellut, gazelle,
and two bustards were shot. The latter are remarkably fleshy, and very
good eating. Seldom a day passed without tetél, nellut, gazelles, maarif,
mehedehét or dick-dick being shot. The latter is a beautiful little
antelope of the smallest kind. I shot many very small, beautifully
plumaged sun-birds to-day—less than half the size of wrens—but only
managed to bring two or three of them home, as the shot, small as it was,
blew them all to pieces; they ought really to be shot with sand.

It became known in camp that we purpose to-morrow cutting across country
for the river Settite, or Tacazze, amongst the Hamran or sword-hunting
Arabs, _viâ_ Sarcella. In consequence of this we were told (just
before dinner) that after that meal we should receive a deputation of
camel-drivers and horse-boys to enter a protest against this plan.
Accordingly, just after dinner they came in a body, saying that nothing
would induce them to pass the village of Sarcella, as the Basé there were
bad people, and they had just heard that they had sworn to spear every
man, woman, or child of the Beni-Amirs that they encountered, on account
of the raid which Sheik Ahmed had made on them the other day, just after
he left us on our march into their territory. This was the first news
we had of his performances there. They said that after making “aman”
with the Basé, he speared three or four hundred of the men and took all
the women and children as slaves. We reproved them for their cowardice,
saying that they were not old women or children, they had their spears
and shields, whilst we had rifles and revolvers, and were strong enough
to make a two days’ march through their territory, instead of one day.
Our arguments were fruitless; they were quite willing to go with us from
Hiekota to the Settite, but they would not, on any account, pass by
Sarcella. We, therefore, made a virtue of necessity, and gave up the idea.

February 25th.—To-day we encamped at Toodloak, having made a journey of
seven and a half miles. I captured a chameleon on the road. Panthers
rather disturbed us last night, and at 4 a.m. a hyæna close to my tent
exercised his risible faculties so much that I, not seeing exactly where
the laugh came in, got up and saluted him with a shower of stones. About
5 a.m. lions were heard; some of us got up and went in quest of them,
came within about 40 yards of one, but he turned off into the jungle when
he caught sight of us. However, during our stay in the Basé country 18
buffalos and about 60 antelopes, besides other game, were shot by members
of the party. We could easily have secured elephants had we remained long
enough and followed them up, and many more buffalos and antelopes had we
remained longer in the country, and, of course, giraffes and ostriches.
The only rhinoceros, or tracks of one, we did not find until we reached
Abyssinia. I have not enlarged much on hunting scenes, fearing that my
book would become bulky, and that the _generality_ of my readers would
scarcely care to read a repetition of such scenes.

February 26th.—Heat getting great, 94° in shade to-day. Another 7½ hours
brought us to Heikota. There we found quite a heap of letters, papers,
and periodicals from England.

The contents of the letters were, of course, greedily devoured by us all,
and as for the newspapers and periodicals, they furnished enough of news
for days. Although many of them were fully two months old, the contents
were new to us.

About an hour after our arrival Sheik Ahmed appeared and received us
literally with open arms, at the same time kissing us on either cheek.
This I could have put up with under different circumstances, but I must
say this mode of salutation is not acceptable to me. We found from Herr
Schumann that the wildest rumours respecting us had reached them—five had
been killed by the Abyssinians, two taken prisoners and put in irons, all
our men killed, whilst our camels and everything else had been annexed.
The Sheik says that had he known of the attack in time he would willingly
have put 1,400 men in the field at once to assist us. He gave us an
account of his revenge on the Basé at Sarcella after he left us, but
there were some unpleasant little details which he prudently omitted,
thinking probably that they would shock our English susceptibilities. The
particulars Herr Schumann furnished us with.

His tale was this—When the Sheik left us to join his men at Sarcella they
had about 500 of the Basé in a cave; the Sheik arrived there quietly,
beseiged them for about 10 days, of course cutting them off from water
and food.

During this time they ate their goats and sheep raw, quenching their
thirst with the blood of these animals. Finally the only course left open
to the beseiged was to place themselves at the mercy of their merciless
conquerors; so, driven by hunger, thirst, and the smell of their dead,
they crawled out, weakened by want, in threes and fours. All the men to
the number of about 300, were speared on the spot, whilst about 200 women
and children were taken into captivity and sold as slaves, realizing
30, 40, 50, 60, and 70 dollars each. About 30 remained unsold on our
arrival; these I saw next day. All the cattle, sheep, goats, dhurra, and
everything else the Beni-Amirs could lay their hands on were seized. Now
we could understand why the idea of passing through or by Sarcella was so
repugnant to our men. I have many patients to attend to, who literally
appear to hunger and thirst after my pills and medicine.



CHAPTER XX.

    PATIENTS ARRIVE FROM ALL PARTS—ROUGH JOURNEYS—ARRIVE AT THE
    HAMRAN SETTITE—MAHOMET SALI DECEIVES US—CROCODILES, TURTLE,
    AND FISH—WE MOVE ON TO BOORKATTAN, IN ABYSSINIA—NEXT DAY WE
    MOVE OFF, AS ABYSSINIANS APPROACH—WE CATCH ENORMOUS QUANTITIES
    OF FISH WITH THE NET—NARROW ESCAPE FROM A WOUNDED BUFFALO—THE
    COORBATCH ADMINISTERED—SCORPIONS AND SNAKES—HAMRANS VISIT
    US—HAMRAN MODE OF HUNTING AND SNARING—HAMRAN AND BASÉ—THE
    HAMRANS THREATEN TO FIRE ON US—AGAIN RETURN TO THE HAMRAN
    SETTITE—ENCAMP AT OMHAGGER.


February 27th.—I was well employed at my medicine chest again this
morning. Amongst some of my patients was a man who had followed us about
for weeks from Kassala, but had always arrived too late to come up with
us. Many others whom I had attended before we entered the Basé country
also visited me, expressing their thanks for what I had done for them,
and presenting me with a spear, a shield, an Arab knife, a gourd of wild
honey, a sheep, and other things; indeed, I met with more gratitude
amongst those poor Arabs than I have in much more favoured climes where
people are well educated, and where the sentiment often is very scarce,
as well as the money.

February 28th.—This morning, about seven o’clock, a great number of
women and children came close to camp making a great noise with the
accompaniment of the tom-toms and that peculiar trilling note to which
I have before alluded. It seems that this was a complimentary serenade,
and that they were rejoicing at our deliverance from the hands of the
Philistines.

Yesterday was occupied a good deal in making arrangements with Sheik
Ahmed for a march on to the Basé Settite. Mahomet Sali, who knows the
country well, will be our principal guide there. We have not seen
a flowing river since we left Kassala; we hope soon to do so, and
are told that we shall find any number of nellut, gazelles, tetél,
buffalos, giraffes, hippopotamus, lions, leopards, crocodiles, and
plenty of fishing, besides monkeys, baboons, golden-crested and toke or
fish eagles, paroquets; rollo-birds, and grouse, doves, guinea-fowl,
partridges, king-fishers, &c., surely a sufficient assortment of sport
to satisfy the most ardent sportsman.

A start was not effected until two. Sheik Ahmed, with some minor chiefs
and a number of his people, accompanied us a part of the way, which was
an uninteresting monotonous journey of about 10 miles over a dry, dusty
plain, the only vegetation being a great number of mimosa bushes, not
trees. The only game observed on the way was a few gazelles. Encamped at
Falookoo, in Basé territory, at 5.30 p.m.

February 29th.—Marched from 10 to 4; encamping on a wretched plain, where
the fine dust was about an inch thick, pitched our tents near to a deep
well at Sogoda. Several Basé came to salute us. They do not seem _quite_
so wild as those we have lately been amongst, and most of them wear a
tope. This was not by any means an enjoyable journey, as the roads were
bad and mountainous, and covered with intensely prickly trees, through
which my camel rushed me, and which lacerated my poor face, legs, arms,
clothes, and helmet in a dreadful manner. Needles and thread were in
great request after dinner to repair the damage done to clothes.

March 1st.—This has been a long, tedious march from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
All the discomforts and thorn-scratchings of yesterday intensified six
fold; frequently men had to go on in front and cut down trees to enable
the caravan to proceed. At 5 p.m. we arrived at a river-bed, dug a well,
filled our barrels with water and resumed our journey. It was past 12 at
midnight ere we dined, and 2 a.m. before we retired to our much-needed
rest, which we had very little of, as we were up at 6 a.m.

March 2nd.—Feeling stiff, sore, and tired. A bath would have been most
refreshing, but this morning we were obliged to deny ourselves the luxury
because all the water obtainable was in our barrels. Although our clothes
and flesh have not been so lacerated to-day, the march has been tedious
and very monotonous. For nine successive hours our route lay through
an immense forest of young mimosa trees; these and a quantity of dry,
withered grass was all that we saw during the time, except a few wild
hogs, one of which was chased and speared by a native. By 5 p.m. all our
water was gone, and the thirst of every one was excessive, the heat being
so great, 94° F. in the shade. After travelling 13 hours, we encamped at
9.30 p.m. by a broad, noble-looking river, the Tacazze or Settite which
lay like a lake in front of our camp, either side being fringed with
shrubs and trees of all kinds, amongst the branches of which brilliant
plumaged birds unsuspiciously roosted, little thinking that I should be
looking after them on the morrow.

This river was to us a most refreshing sight after travelling hundreds
of miles over burning deserts and khors or dry river-courses, never
seeing water except by digging for it. It was 12 o’clock this night ere
we got our dinner. All are very angry with Mahomet Sali, our guide,
who professed, and no doubt _does_ know, the whole of this country and
neighbourhood well, for he has brought us, not to the Basé, but the
Hamran Settite, where there is not very much game, as the Hamrans, or
sword-hunters, have destroyed it. This fellow told us on the way that he
would take us to the Basé Settite, within two days or less of Abyssinia,
where there would be plenty of game of all kinds, and here he brings us
about three days out of the way. An unpleasant interview and discourse
will ensue with Mahomet Sali on the morrow. Mr. F. L. James thinks,
rightly or wrongly I don’t know, that Sheik Ahmed has instructed Mahomet
Sali and Beyrumfi not to take us to the Basé Settite, fearing we might
get into trouble, either with them, or, what was more likely, with the
Abyssinians. This place is called Geebau.

[Illustration: THE AUTHOR ATTENDING TO ARAB AILMENTS.]

March 3rd.—Mahomet Sali was summoned before the council just after
breakfast, and his delinquencies forcibly pointed out. What he said for
himself I do not know, as I picked up a shot-gun and rifle, taking one of
the boys with me to carry the rifle and anything I shot. This river is
full of crocodiles, turtle, and fish. I was not long out ere a crocodile
received a bullet from my rifle. I also shot a sacred ibis, a crocodile
bird, and a beautiful golden-crested eagle.

In the afternoon the big net was sent on a camel some considerable
distance down the river, where it was rather deep, accompanied by most of
our men and ourselves. The river was dragged, and about 100lbs. of fine
fish were secured, some weighing 10 or 12 lbs. The addition of fish to
our dinner was much appreciated.

March 4th.—The nights are now getting decidedly warm, so much so that I
sleep now with simply a sheet covering me and both ends of my tent open.
To-day it is 94° in the shade. Last night Sali saw a wild beast pass
quite close to the camp just where he was sleeping. Presently he heard
him washing himself, and indulge in a little vocal display. There was no
mistaking his note—it was a lion. Sali at once called Mr. Phillipps, but
could not get any intelligible reply from him, as he was so excessively
sleepy, and knew nothing about it until next morning. Others, however,
were much vexed with Sali for not letting them know.

Mahomet Sali was sent off this morning with five camels and two men to
the Hamrans to procure dhurra. We at the same time, 10 a.m., strike our
tents and start for the Basé Settite, to the great disgust of our men,
who manifest a decided disinclination to visit that locality. We lunched
at Khor-Maiateb on a nice piece of table-land overlooking a beautiful
sheet of water, and shaded by tamarisk, tamarind, and other trees. This
place simply swarmed with crocodiles. I saw a great many Marabou-storks
and two Egyptian geese; one of the latter I managed to bag, and part of
the skeleton of a hippopotamus—the carcase of which, I doubt not, had
provided a rare feast for his slayers.

After lunch we pushed on, and very soon travelled over some vile country.
First of all over very stony road, then down a very steep declivity, over
rocks and big stones, next up a mountain side of the same character—no
road, no pathway even; then along a mountainous pathway, through an
awfully sterile country, covered with nothing but leafless trees,
withered grass, and precipitous rocks, finally encamping at Boorkattan,
above the most gigantic rocks of basalt, of great extent, these again
overlooking the river. We can see, probably a day’s march from here, an
immense tall mountain in Abyssinia, on the summit of which is said to be
a fortress. We found the large footprints of the hippopotamus in the
sand by the river, and quite expect to have him in the morning.

We find before night that we are in Abyssinia, so that it is quite
evident Mahomet Sali has not adhered strictly to the truth, as here we
are positively in Abyssinia in one day’s march. I indulged three times
after our arrival in a bath in the river. I dare not dive into any of
the pools, fearing that a crocodile might consider me a delicate morsel,
but picked out a kind of cradle on the edge, where I could lie down
comfortably.

March 5th.—We hear that there is an Abyssinian village about seven miles
from here, and that our men are determined they will not proceed any
further than this camp. They also think that our camp, pitched as it is
on such elevated ground, can be plainly seen by Abyssinians, who they
quite expect will make an attack on us to-day. Should they do so, we
should come off badly, as there are no means of forming a zareeba. It is
quite apparent that they did not feel easy in their minds last night, as
a considerable number near my tent were chattering away half the night,
instead of going to sleep or allowing me to do so.

After breakfast Beyrumfi was sent for. A great pow-wow ensued, he
definitely stating that we can go no further without getting right among
Abyssinians, that the country is so rocky, wild, and mountainous that
hunting is impossible, and the camels cannot travel there. Accordingly
orders are given to load up the camels and return to Khor-Maiateb, where
we lunched yesterday.

I had just fixed my bag, rifle, &c., on my camel, when Mr. Aylmer came
running to me, rifle in hand, saying, “Doctor, get your rifle and
revolver ready. Some of our men say that they have seen a large body of
Abyssinians coming down on us, some on horseback and some on foot; but
at present they are a pretty good distance off.” Our caravan was nearly
ready to start. Of course we all armed ourselves pretty quickly; then
saw some of our camel-drivers (one old fellow particularly) working
themselves up into a frenzy of excitement, leaping about like lunatics,
at the same time brandishing their spears in a most threatening manner,
indicative of what would be the fate of the enemy should they appear. As
we looked upon this performance as so much waste of time, we scruffed
these fellows, boxed their ears, and told them to make haste and
load up their camels, which they did with a will. As a rule they are
generally a couple of hours loading, but now they were wonderfully quick,
accomplishing the work in half the usual time. We got off in safety, and
arrived at Khor-Maiateb in the afternoon. Temperature, 95° in the shade.

March 6th.—Crocodiles are rather too common here to be pleasant, and
interfere with the luxury of the morning and evening bath. To avoid any
unpleasant _contretemps_, I generally collected together several big
stones by the side of a large pool, threw them in one after the other to
frighten the crocodiles away, then threw myself in. This device proved
eminently successful, enabling me to enjoy a plunge and a short swim. I
need scarcely say I did not fool about long in the water, fearing they
might return to see what white object was swimming about.

To-day we used the large net, and landed 210lbs. of different kinds of
fish. Keeping sufficient for our dinner, the rest was divided between our
men, who ate what they wanted, throwing the remainder into the bushes or
anywhere round the camp, causing an insufferable stench next day, which
we did not get rid of until the fish had been all gathered up and thrown
into the river.

March 7th.—The little canvas boat is in great request, and enables us to
go a good way up and down the river. The net was used to some purpose
to-day, for we landed 360lbs. of fish and one turtle. At 12 a.m. about
20 Basé came to us with information that elephants are not far off, as
they saw and heard them; also that on the 5th, near our last camp, whilst
they were looking for wild honey, the Abyssinians swooped down on them,
killed several, including the Sheik’s son, and stole three women and a
few children. No doubt these were the very fellows who were coming down
on us. When we discreetly and gracefully retired, they found us gone,
and so seized the Basé. After lunch Messrs. A. and W. James and Colvin
mounted their horses and went in search of the elephants. Temperature,
96° in the shade.

March 8th.—About 11 a.m. two or three Basé (who accompanied Messrs. James
and Colvin yesterday) returned, saying that the latter had shot two
buffalos, one of which was killed, the other wounded only, and that they
had seen plenty of elephant tracks but no elephants. At 4 p.m. they all
returned, having tracked and secured the wounded buffalo, and an ariel. A
crocodile, fish-eagle, and an enormous horned-owl fell to my gun to-day.
Temperature, 98° in shade.

March 9th.—Temperature, 100° F. dry bulb, wet bulb 71°, solar thermometer
156°. So far this is the hottest day I have ever experienced. Whilst
bathing to-day I put my towel near the water’s edge to stand on, as the
stones were like hot coals to the feet. We have cleared many of our
followers and men out of camp to-day. The Basé, Mahomet Sali, Beyrumfi,
and all the Beni-Amirs have been discharged for misleading us. Messrs.
F. James and Phillipps have gone in quest of game, and Messrs. Colvin,
A. and W. James have returned to the same place as before in search of
elephants.

March 10th.—Last night seven or eight rifle reports from the other camp
reached us. At 1 p.m. they were accounted for by Messrs. Colvin and
company, who arrived in camp. They had shot at and wounded two buffalos
(one a bull). Two or three lions had attacked one of the wounded, leaving
very distinct marks of the struggle; still, the buffalo had managed to go
on. They tracked him for some distance, but the heat became so great by
mid-day—101° in the shade—that they had to desist. Another, wounded in
the night, they followed up nearly to the jungle, when suddenly he darted
on to them, charging most furiously in Mr. A. James’ direction. He,
however, saluted him with two eight-bore bullets in the chest, which had
the effect of turning him from his purpose, and causing him to change his
plan, for he turned and then charged Mr. Colvin, who, very fortunately
for him, happened to give him a bullet in the fore leg at very close
quarters, as the buffalo fell right against him with some violence, and
sent him reeling on the ground. I should think this was about as close to
an enraged wounded buffalo as Mr. Colvin or any other man in his senses
could desire.

We could very frequently get a shot at a crocodile when in the water,
but seldom on land; they seem much too wary to be caught there. I have
often seen them basking in the sun on the bank of the river, crept
cautiously up, and whether they have seen me, smelt me, or I have trodden
on a twig I know not, but before I could get near enough they have all
disappeared in the water. They come up to the surface often. We see a
dark spot in the middle of a quiet-looking pool, and take a pot-shot, but
seldom get the reptile until next day, when we find him floating, but
so mutilated that he is not worth securing. To-day, however, Mr. Aylmer
shot one in the water near the camp, and was fortunate enough to secure
him by the aid of a native, who dived into the pool with a rope, which
he slipped over his upper jaw. I fancy crocodiles prefer white skins to
black, for these black fellows plunge into the water and swim about where
we would not dare to go.

Before the crocodile episode—in fact, just after breakfast—our court
of justice sat. This consisted of ourselves, who were the judges, the
jurors, and the counsel; and I venture to say that strict justice was
dealt out with an even hand. The culprit was a fine, strapping, rather
good-looking fellow of about six feet, a camel-driver. He had been
troublesome on two or three previous occasions, but last night he passed
the bounds of discretion. His brother roused him up in the night to take
his turn at sentry-duty; in return for this he warned his brother that
he would make him suffer in the morning—which he certainly did, as he
got him under some trees and there chastised him severely with a stick.
When we heard of this, the culprit, prosecutor, and witnesses had to
appear before the tribunal. The charge was proved, and the culprit was
ordered 20 lashes of the coorbatch, to be administered by Suleiman, four
camel-men to hold him down. He at once dispensed with the assistance of
the camel-men, and without making any bother at all, laid down on the
sand, face downwards, whilst Suleiman went in search of the coorbatch.
The castigation was duly administered, the fellow taking it without
flinching an atom. When finished he got up, brushed the dust from his
tope, and walked off in his usual manner. He seemed not to bear the least
malice, for some time afterwards he was as busy as anyone helping to land
the crocodile.

March 11th.—Two bull buffalos, a tetél, and nellut were shot to-day.
Scorpions are too plentiful here; we are continually finding them in our
tents, but so far none of us have received any of their dreadful stings.
They belong to the class _Arachnida_. A scorpion has what looks like a
claw in his long tail, through which the poison, which lies in a bag
at the bottom of it, is projected. This tail, preparatory to taking the
offensive, lies curled up on his back, not unlike a squirrel. He can at
will bring this down with considerable force, but only in a straight
line—he cannot twist it to strike.

Whilst strolling up the river-bed with my gun in the afternoon I came
upon Mr. W. D. James, who had just met with a rather curious, and
not altogether agreeable, adventure. He had brought his photographic
apparatus with him, and planted it within a convenient distance from a
pool, intending to photograph gazelles when they came to drink. He was
successful in obtaining a good picture of two—one drinking, the other
looking straight at the camera. Whilst waiting patiently for them,
seated on some rocks under a large baobob tree, he heard a hissing noise
behind him. On turning his head, he saw a snake waving about in an erect
position, with tongue out, looking as if he was about to strike. Mr. W.
D. James did not sit on the stone any longer, but seized a stick, and was
lucky enough to kill it ere he was able to bite.

About a week ago we set some mustard and cress; to-day we had a good
quantity for luncheon, and found it a very agreeable addition.

March 12th.—A few Hamrans called to-day, and are very anxious to
persuade us to go towards Abyssinia, saying they are friendly with the
Abyssinians, and can show us hippos. The offer is not accepted. I find
these fellows do not by any means confine their hunting tendencies to
simply the use of the sword, as I have often found very ingeniously
constructed snares plentifully placed in runs leading to the river.
Doubtless when the animals are thus ensnared they are despatched with the
sword or spear.

I will try and describe the kind of snare: They get a strong branch of a
tree that will bend, not break, into a circle; this they firmly secure.
They have a number of strips of wood, broad at the base, and gradually
getting narrow, converging until they meet in the middle of the circle
bent downwards on one side; these again are firmly secured to the circle.
A hole, perhaps a foot deep, and half a foot or a foot in diameter, is
dug in the ground where the run is. On the top of this hole is placed
the snare, covered with earth, attached by a strong rope to a great log,
or the trunk of a tree. The unsuspecting animal comes to drink, puts
his foot on this, and it slips in. He cannot pull his leg out, for the
harder he pulls the more firmly is he secured, as the sharp spokes stick
into his flesh. It is, in fact, just like a wheel: the tire is the outer
circle, and the axle represents the hole through which his leg goes.

The reason the Hamrans are called sword-hunters is this—I am quite sure
that neither I nor any of our party can speak from experience, as we
never saw the feat performed, but Sir Samuel Baker has: Whilst hunting
the elephant, or giraffe, a Hamran on horseback gallops in front of an
enraged elephant armed with a sword, whilst one behind, similarly armed,
gallops after him. The elephant may elect to turn round and chase the
one behind—in any case, he is between two evils, for eventually the one
behind, whilst the horse is going at full gallop, will, when he is near
enough, jump off and with great dexterity hamstring the elephant with his
long two-edged sword; then, of course, he can easily be despatched. His
tusks are cut off and sold, and his carcase provides a good feast.

Two Basé who had remained in our camp slipped off to the mountains on
seeing the Hamrans in our camp, returning again after their departure. It
is quite evident they do not regard them as friends.

March 13th.—This morning several Hamrans, with the late Sheik’s son,
interviewed us, and seem very desirous of acting as pioneers in this
part of the country. We declined their services. This seems displeasing
information to them, and they also express anger at our having two Basé
in camp. On leaving us they went towards the Basé country. Suleiman
explained this by saying, “The two Basé in our camp, they go soon as they
see these Hamrans. Now he go after the Basé; they kill his father long
time ago. Now he kill all the Basé he find if he strong enough and have
plenty of mens with him.” This was really the case, and the Hamrans were
now hunting the Basé just as we would wild animals. However, they had a
good start, and probably made the best of their way to their country.

Our camels were now being loaded, as we had resolved to move our camp.
Whilst we were preparing, a Hamran came, saying he was sent to tell us
that we had given the Heikota sheik a number of presents, but they had
nothing to do with him. We were now in the Hamran’s country, or soon
would be, and they were not willing for us to kill their game without
permission from their Sheik, adding that if we advanced they would fire
on us. Our reply was, “Tell your friends that our camels are loaded, and
so are we. We are coming your way in less than half-an-hour, and strongly
advise them to save their powder, as that is a game that two can play
at. Threats don’t alarm us in the least. If they are ready to commence
hostilities so are we.” I suppose they thought better of it. Shortly
afterwards we started without hindrance until we got just beyond our old
camping ground, by the Settite, where our tents were then pitched. There
were two hippopotami in the river just here, one of which we saw. The
river was dragged, but they slipped under the net.

March 14th.—Marched from 8.30 a.m. until 2.30 p.m., encamping on a high,
flat table-land overlooking a beautiful sheet of water plentifully
bordered on the bank by trees and bushes in which could be found any
number of beautiful birds and doves. At the back of our camp was a
large wood on perfectly level ground, which gave shelter to myriads of
guinea fowls, doves, and other birds, also vast numbers of baboons.
The occupants of the water were crocodiles, turtle, and very numerous
different kinds of fish. The shore, a little way from camp, was
frequented by Marabou storks, flamingoes, ibis, cranes, storks, Egyptian
geese, herons, crocodile-birds, &c., &c.

This was the most enjoyable camping ground we had yet come to. It was
also the hottest place we had hitherto found, for the temperature at 2
p.m. to-day was 105° Fah. in the shade. During such hot weather a bath
was of course a most delicious thing to indulge in, but I must say I did
so with some trepidation, as the pool in front of us was frequented
by some good-sized crocodiles whom it was as well not to trifle with.
I therefore contented myself, as a rule, with lying down in the water
on the edge where it was shallow. When feeling inclined for a plunge
and swim I invariably adopted the preliminary caution of hurling in
several big stones; on these occasions I was sufficiently discreet not to
remain long in the water, having conceived a very wholesome objection to
furnishing any of these scaly monsters with such a repast as a Williams.
The water was quite tepid, of course from the great heat. This place is
called Omhagger, not far from the village of Ombrager.



CHAPTER XXI.

    A BOA-CONSTRICTOR VISITS US—THE BURTON BOAT—MOUSSA’s BEHAVIOUR
    ENTAILS A THRASHING AND HIS DISCHARGE—GREAT HEAT—A FINE
    HIPPOPOTAMUS KILLED—HAMRAN FEAST—THE WHITE ANTS—ANOTHER
    HIPPOPOTAMUS KILLED—MAHOMET SALI BRINGS SUPPLIES—NATIVE
    MUSIC IN THE NIGHT—DELICATE HINTS CONVEYED TO THE
    PERFORMER—A REMARKABLY FINE NELLUT SHOT—ARAB AND EGYPTIAN
    TAXATION—BABOONS—A HAMRAN STORY—ALI BITTEN BY A SCORPION—ON THE
    MARCH ONCE MORE—ROUGH JOURNEYS.


In the evening, whilst George and Anselmia, our two European servants,
were dining by their tent, George called out, “A snake, a snake.” A
little terrier, named “Tartar” (which Mr. W. D. James had brought from
England) began barking furiously, whilst we sallied forth with anything
we could lay our hands on—Mr. Phillipps and I each with a spear, Mr.
Colvin with an Abyssinian sword—darted off, just in time to see a great
boa-constrictor gliding through the grass and into some thorny bushes
where we could not pursue him.

George said, “I heard something hissing,” and said to Anselmia, “What the
devil is that?” looked round and saw an enormous snake about a yard off
in the tree behind me, hissing away, with head up. I was off in quick
sticks. Last night a lion came so close to my tent, and made such a noise
that he woke us all up, and produced quite a stampede amongst the horses
and camels. Some of the natives sleeping just outside my tent threw
firebrands at him. Unfortunately the moonlight was wanting at the time or
we might, perhaps, have bagged him.

Two tetél, four ariel, and several birds were shot to-day.

March 15th.—Hyænas were rather noisy last night, but I have never known
them so troublesome anywhere as at Kassala. The heat to-day was 106° in
the shade—so far the hottest day I ever experienced. Of course the Burton
boat is in frequent use now. To-day, whilst quietly punting about near
the bushes with my gun laid across the seat, I observed some beautiful
and strange birds. I quietly seized my gun, and found the barrel so
excessively hot that I positively could not hold it until I wrapped my
pocket-handkerchief round it. I succeeded in bagging two fine spotted
giant king-fishers. This morning Moussa, a mischievous young rascal,
whom we had brought with us from Kassala, was severely thrashed with
the coorbatch, then sent away with our head camel-man (who was going
for dhurra) to the Sheik at Ombrager, to be forwarded on to Kassala. It
seems that he had quarrelled with Idrees, a native servant from Keren;
then, whilst struggling together, he whipped out a pair of scissors and
with it snipped out several bits of flesh from his arms and chest. This
was not his first offence, for on the 13th he received 20 lashes of the
coorbatch. Then he laid himself down at once, face downwards, and took it
without flinching; to-day he got it severely, and yelled most vigorously.
His offence on the former occasion was this: Whilst Sali was running to
camp, rifle in hand, this impudent young scamp struggled with him for
the possession of it (this was just after dark). In the struggle the
rifle went off, and might have lodged a bullet in Sali or anyone in camp.
Unfortunately the coorbatch is the only remedy for these natives—the only
way of keeping up discipline. If treated with kindness and forbearance
they think we are getting lax and easy, will at once take advantage of
it, skulk about and do nothing, but the coorbatch at once brings them to
reason.

Mr. A. James found a man’s skull to-day, also a gigantic tortoise shell.
Mr. Phillipps angled and caught an enormous gamout, weighing 31 lbs. Two
ariel, a nellut, and calf buffalo were shot.

March 16th.—Temperature 105°, wet bulb 71°, solor 160°. Last night hyænas
and wild cats exercised a disturbing influence on our slumbers. Soon
after breakfast a Hamran Sheik, with attendants, called, presenting us
with a good quantity of milk and a sheep. During the day a crocodile was
shot, also a very fine hippopotamus. The latter was observed poking his
head above water in a large pool a little way from camp, little thinking
of the danger awaiting him. He had no sooner done so than crash went a
hardened bullet into his skull. Down he went, but could not stay long,
for he must come up to breathe. On his reappearance he received another
leaden messenger in his skull. On his coming to the surface a third
time he spouted up a quantity of blood and water, and received one more
bullet, after which he disappeared mortally wounded. The next time he
came to the surface a floating corpse. A few hours afterwards ropes were
obtained and fastened round him by some Arabs, who dived, and he was
dragged to shore amid universal rejoicing, they knowing right well that
a feast was in store.

We find the white ants very troublesome here. Should anyone be careless
enough to leave his satchel or portmanteau on the bare ground he would
regret it in the morning. Anyone who has visited Central Africa will
come away with very distinct recollections of the white ants. They are
really wonderful little creatures, and the structures they erect are
often on a colossal scale. Quite near to our dining place here is one
of their buildings. As a rule they are built of a conical or sugar-loaf
form, but I have seen them of the form of turrets. They are worked up
from the soil of the country by the ants, and are of the consistency of
stone, and so strong that a buffalo or leopard has been known to take
up its position on the top for the purpose of observation. During one
portion of our journey, on emerging from a wood, I saw what I at first
took to be a village on a large plain; the habitations resembled huts,
in some cases 15 feet high, and proportionately large at the base. They
were only a colony of white ants, and I dare say their village consisted
of 200 of these ant hills. The white ants (_Termes bellicosus_) are not
true ants; that is, they do not belong to the order _Hymenoptera_, which
embraces the industrious bee and the crafty ichneumon, but belong to
the order _Neuroptera_, which embraces the brilliant, though voracious
dragon-fly, the ephemeral may-fly, and the wily ant-lion. They are
called ants because they are similar to them in their habits and in the
constitution of their colonies. Their antennæ are larger than the head,
their mandibles are well-developed, and the inferior pair of wings is
generally as large as the superior.

There are four classes found in the colony of the white ant—the king
and queen, who live together in a central chamber near the ground,
after having lost their wings; the workers, who build and nurse their
young; the soldiers, who never build or nurse, whose duty consists in
defending the nest when attacked. Neither the workers nor the soldiers
have wings. The largest worker is supposed to be a fifth of an inch long.
The soldiers, which have an enormous head and formidable mandibles, are
at least twice as long, and are said to weigh as much as thirty workers,
attaining the length of nearly four-fifths of an inch, while the female,
when she has become a queen, and about to form an extensive colony,
attains the length of six inches, and lays eggs at the rate of sixty
a minute, or more than eighty thousand a day. The white ants are most
destructive to houses, furniture, clothes, and books; they will, in
fact, destroy anything but stone and metal. Anything that is reducible
to powder will, where they have located themselves, fall to certain
destruction. They work unseen. I have often noticed twigs, leaves,
branches of trees, and so on, destroyed by them. They plaster them over
with mud, and underneath this cover they work. Wooden pillars and beams
are continually made perfect shells by their operations, and the safety
of houses is frequently affected, though externally they would appear
strong and good. The library at the Faurah Bay Church Missionary College,
Sierra Leone, was in a great measure destroyed by their instrumentality.

In 1879 the Bishop of Sierra Leone appealed for funds in order to repair
the churches, which, he said, “are ant-eaten.” Now, although the white
ants are so annoying that hardly anything is proof against their attacks,
they are a great blessing in tropical climes, their office being, in the
economy of nature in these hot countries, to hasten the decomposition
of the woody and decaying parts of vegetation, which, without their
intervention, would render these regions uninhabitable by breeding a
pestilence. The remains of the white ant in the Coal Measures is an
evidence that it was, to a certain extent, through their destructive
agency that the tropical vegetable matter was accumulated which went
to form our coal. The white ant, by hastening the decomposition of
vegetable substances, has ever proved a friend to man; the true ants also
have proved themselves a boon to the inhabitants of tropical climes by
destroying what are popularly classed as vermin.

March 17th.—I am happy to say that the temperature has dropped to 97°,
and that is quite as hot as one cares about. Whilst breakfasting,
about 6 a.m., a native came, saying “Assint effendi,” at the same time
jerking his thumb towards the river. This meant a hippopotamus. He was
accordingly sought for, found and killed before 8 a.m., not far from
camp. To see the Arabs then cutting up the carcase, wallowing in gore,
and stuffing lumps of meat or fat into their mouths, and rubbing the
latter on their heads was a most disgusting sight, almost as bad as the
Basé. Festoons of meat soon ornamented every tree in the neighbourhood of
the camp. The natives themselves looked like a number of dips melting in
the sun. Every head to-day is dripping with fat, which melts and drops
about all over the shoulders. Feeling a little Mark Twainish, I cannot
help remarking that this plastering of the head with fat is, no doubt,
a very ancient custom, in which Aaron, his friends, and contemporaries
were accustomed to indulge to a great extent. Do we not read? “And they
annointed his head with oil, which ran down even unto his beard.” This
was probably the fat obtained from hippopotamus, buffaloes, &c., and
clearly indicates that these old gentlemen were, more or less, affected
with sporting proclivities; but it is more than probable that they were
not at that time in possession of eight-bore rifles and hardened bullets.

During the greater part of this day we have observed a peculiar hazy
appearance on the other side of the river—extending for miles—resembling
mist in appearance. It was really a very fine dust. In the evening this
was followed by a good deal of wind, which much increased towards night.

March 18th.—Last night and this morning was cooler than any for weeks
past. Temperature at 1.30 p.m. 92° in the shade. Mahomet Sali put in an
appearance to-day with a camel-load of flour and bread from Kassala.
He also brought the skin of a very fine boa-constrictor, which one of
our party was not long in annexing. It really was intended for George,
but the annexer gave the owner two dollars for it, and so it became his
pretty quickly. The bread we have is like the Cairo bread we brought with
us. It is baked hard in squares, resembling dog-biscuits. When wanted at
meal-times they are dipped in water and then put over the fire for a few
minutes, when they become spongy and eatable.

Two or three little matters conspired to ruffle me rather last night.
When retiring for the night my first business was to kill two scorpions
and some gigantic spiders which I found in my tent. Having accomplished
these murders to my entire satisfaction, I undressed, lastly taking off
my socks. I had no sooner put my feet on the matting than the soles of my
feet felt as if they were pin-cushions, receiving a thousand prickling
sensations—sometimes not unlike those produced by a galvanic battery.
I found on inspection of the matting swarms of large black ants. This
was not all. I got into bed, but was not allowed to sleep without the
accompaniment of a stringed instrument, somewhat resembling a banjo,
which a wretched Arab had constructed out of an empty preserved meat tin.
He had stretched a piece of skin tightly across this, attached a bridge,
three strings, a finger-board, and all the rest of it, then strummed and
fingered away close to my tent, producing the most monotonous sounds
for an hour or two after I was in bed, evidently as much in love with
his instrument as someone else would be with his violoncello. I had not
done anything deserving such torture as this wretch thought proper to
inflict on me, so would not stand it any longer. I therefore got up and
delicately conveyed a hint (in the shape of a boot which I hurled at him)
that this mode of serenading in the middle of the night was not only
unappreciated by me, but decidedly objectionable. The stringed instrument
ceased for a while until I was just going to sleep, when this demon in
human form again started. I immediately threw out three more rather
forcible hints. They were another boot and two empty claret bottles; and
I rather think the last two hints appealed forcibly to his feelings, as
the light guitar was then laid aside, and I was allowed to sink into a
calm sleep.

During the day Mr. W. D. James shot a magnificent buck nellut, which had
the finest head we have yet seen. His horns, taking the direct length,
measured 39½ inches; taking the curves, 53 inches. An enormous tortoise
was brought to camp this morning alive (abugeddir, as they called him).
Two stout men can stand on his back, and he walks away with them as if
they were two straws.

March 19th.—Temperature, 92° in shade. The hazy appearance noticed during
the last two days has passed away; the wind also has subsided. I think we
may expect a hot day again.

This morning a son of the Hamran Sheik came to camp, demanding a tax
of eight dollars on our guide. The latter is to receive 25 dollars per
month, out of which the Heikota Sheik wants eight dollars. To begin at
the fountain-head, the Egyptian Government have a head-tax—every young
person on reaching a certain age is taxed. The owner of every date
palm-tree has to pay a tax, the same with the owner of a “sageer,” or
sakia (a water-wheel); in fact, I believe everybody and everything is
taxed. The Government look to the Governor-General of the Soudan for
a good round sum; he, in turn, looks to the Mudir, or governor of a
district. He squeezes the necessary out of the sheiks of the various
tribes, and they in turn (to use a metaphor, suck the orange dry) screw
out of the poor Arabs of the tribe what they require. If the sheik fails
to produce the sum required of him by the Mudir, the latter swoops down
on his camels, flocks, and herds and sells a sufficient number of them to
produce the required sum; but if the sheik has no camels, &c., he himself
is seized and put in durance vile until the tribe find the necessary
number of dollars.

    Some worms there are who feed on men;
    Others there are who feed on them.
    These lesser worms have worms to bite ’em;
    Thus worm eats worm _ad infinitum_.

How can Egypt ever prosper under such a system? What inducement have
these poor Arabs to accumulate anything more than is sufficient for their
daily wants? None. When we engaged servants at Heikota, at, say, 12
dollars per month, the first thing the sheik did was to take two dollars
from each man, and very probably as much, or more, at the termination of
their services. The beasts, the ants, the reptiles, and birds prey on one
another; crocodiles on big fish, and big fish on little ones. There is no
Salvation Army there, and if there were (I don’t want to be ironical, but
_Byron_-ical) I do not think there exists a more preying community.

Two nellut and a maarif shot to-day.

March 20th.—This morning, just after breakfast, I took up my gun and went
about 100 yards from camp, with the intention of shooting a baboon. But
my heart smote me—they looked so awfully human—and I desisted; but I sat
down and derived much amusement from watching enormous baboons and little
monkeys gambolling by the water’s edge.

On returning to camp I found Suleiman conversing with a man wearing a
belt full of cartridges (a rather uncommon spectacle). The conversation
lasted some time. I was told afterwards that when he learned from
Suleiman that we had been again by or in Abyssinian territory, he
exclaimed, “You have to thank the good God that you came away when you
did. Had the Abyssinians seen your tents and all those boxes they would
certainly have come down on you and killed everyone of you for the sake
of the tents alone, to say nothing of the boxes.” He also informed him
that about a month ago they killed a party of Hamrans, who went up there
hunting from this neighbourhood, just for the sake of a gun or two, and
whatever else they could lay their hands on.

A buck nellut, two wild boars, killed; two buffalos wounded. Temperature,
97° F. in shade.

March 21st.—Temperature, 100°. Nothing of interest to-day. A tetél, two
nellut, and mehedehét shot; maariff wounded, but not secured. To-morrow
we turn our faces to the Red Sea coast, and expect to reach Massawa in
about three weeks time.

March 22nd.—Last night, just as I was about to retire for the night, I
was sent for to Ali, the cook, who had just been stung on the thigh by a
scorpion. He was evidently suffering great pain. I gave him a strong dose
of ammonia and some brandy, at the same time advising him to poultice the
wound after I had cauterised it. Suleiman having more faith in a more
heroic mode of treatment, obtained a razor, and with it made a series of
little gashes, remarking at the same time, “There, now Ali better after
that; the bad blood come from him now.” Of course I did not interfere,
but allowed them both to have their own way, to their mutual satisfaction.

As we were now about to take our farewell of the river, I indulged in
a swim at 6 a.m., not forgetting at the time to hurl in several large
stones preparatory to my dive, as a warning to all crocodiles to vanish
for a time.

At 10 a.m. the hamlah was on the move. Our journey this day was pursued
under very unpleasant conditions, as we travelled frequently through
large bushes of mimosa and kittars, tearing our helmets and clothes to
pieces, and inflicting not a few scratches on our bodies. At 7 p.m. we
encamped at Khor-Maiatah, about five miles from our old camp. The day’s
sport was a crocodile and buffalo.



CHAPTER XXII.

    ENCAMP AT LAKATAKOORA WITHOUT THE CARAVAN—DESCRIPTION OF
    VILLAGE—BASÉ LADIES VISIT ME ERE I GET OUT OF BED—THEY RECEIVE
    PRESENTS AND ARE VERY AMUSING—ENORMOUS NUMBERS OF DOVES AND
    SAND-GROUSE—ABOOSALAL TO SOGODA—BOA-CONSTRICTOR KILLED—AN
    UNPLEASANT JOURNEY, WE ALL GET SEPARATED—ARRIVE AT HEIKOTA
    AGAIN.


March 23rd.—Leaving Khor-Maiatah at 8.45 a.m., we had an exceptionally
unpleasant day of it. We had seen the last of that fine river, the
Tacazze; now if water was wanted it could only be obtained by digging a
few feet in the sandy river-beds. We travelled over mountains, plains,
valleys, river-beds, and nearly all day through a forest of those horrid
mimosas, finally arriving at Lakatakoora, in the Basé country, at 7 p.m.,
_without_ the caravan. At about 11 p.m. Cheriff, with the canteen, Ali
the cook, and a few only of the camels arrived.

As we had not tasted food since about 1 p.m., Cheriff’s canteen was soon
surrounded by us, and the contents of it cleared out in a very short
time. Our dinner (which was a scanty one this time) did not appear until
12.30 a.m. Whilst this was being prepared by Ali we fired off rifles,
burnt blue lights, and lighted a beacon fire for Suleiman with the hamlah
to see where we were; but all to no purpose—they had lost their way.
The moon retired for the night, and so many trees had to cut be down to
enable them to come on, that at last they gave up the idea of attempting
to find us, so slept out.

We also had rather a hard time of it. There was no choice of a
camping-ground—there was but one. This was a large open space devoid of
vegetation, but covered with a thick layer of impalpable dust, about an
inch or so in thickness, infested with white ants. Fortunately our tents
and bedding arrived. I did not wait for my tent to be pitched, but placed
my bedding on the canvas covering of my tent on the ground, and there I
managed to get through the night in a rather unsatisfactory manner. The
other members of the party elected to remain up until their tents were
pitched.

March 24th.—I passed a somewhat uncomfortable night amongst the white
ants, lulled to sleep by the music of hyænas, some of whom seem to have
been intensely amused at our situation, if one may judge from the bursts
of merriment issuing from _their_ camp, as they were evidently excited
by uncontrollable fits of laughter, making the woods in the immediate
neighbourhood resound by the exercise of their risible faculties.

I awoke about 6.30 a.m., but did not arise until 7. Quite near to our
camp I observed on a precipitous mountain side enormous basalt rocks,
some _single_ rocks as big as a good-sized house. This was the village
of Lakatakoora; and amongst these rocks, concealed from view, lived some
Basé. I had not been awake long ere many of the Basé ladies, covered
with beads, their eyelids and lips stained with kohl, rings in their
noses and ears, and a strip of cloth around their waists, came and shook
hands with me, murmuring “Mida” (good-day). Both men and women came in
such increasing numbers that I decided to get up, and had to perform my
toilet in their presence. They watched the whole performance with evident
interest. Such a contrivance as a tooth-brush and tooth-powder elicited
expressions of wonder and admiration, but a hair-brush and comb pleased
them still more. Water was scarce. I therefore had to wash _à la_ Turk.
Mahoom stood by me with a salmon tin full of water, pouring out little
driblets of water into my hands, finally douching my head with the
remaining drop, about two ounces.

Our guide had been sent off at 6 a.m. in search of the lost portion of
the caravan. He found it, and piloted it into our camp at 8.30 a.m.
The Basé were very friendly and obliging in the way of water, for they
brought us this invaluable liquid in very beautifully worked baskets,
so closely woven that not a drop escaped, slung on the shoulder, like
a pair of scales. They also brought us several gourds of wild honey,
which we bought. Many beads and small looking-glasses were given to the
ladies, who appeared highly delighted and amused when they saw their own
faces reflected from a looking-glass for the first time in their lives.
They crowded round the fortunate recipient of one of these reflectors,
peeping over one another’s shoulders, giggling and laughing at their own
reflection in a most amusing manner.

All being packed up by 10 a.m., we moved off a short distance, halting
at Aboosalal at 12.30 p.m. on the sandy bed of a khor, surrounded on
either side by lofty, precipitous rocks, along which scampered hundreds
of enormous baboons and monkeys. Both men and camels seemed completely
knocked up. A little way from camp was a little pool of water in this
khor; and in the neighbourhood, without exaggeration, were thousands
upon thousands of doves and sand-grouse. I took my gun down there in the
evening when they came to drink, and stationed myself behind a huge rock.
In less than half-an-hour I bagged about 15 brace of sand-grouse and five
brace of doves.

The day before we arrived here the natives had killed an elephant. They
and the vultures had picked his bones pretty clean, as nothing but his
skeleton remained when I saw it. His tusks, of course, had been taken
away. Later on they were offered to me by a Sheik’s son; but as they were
damaged, small, and the price excessive, I was not a purchaser.

March 25.—Made a long march from Aboosalal to Sogoda, where water could
be found. We started soon after 8 a.m., and long before we reached our
destination darkness came on. This was a most unpleasant journey through
prickly trees, again tearing our patched-up clothes and helmets. In one
place we all got separated, each one selecting the way he thought best.
I lost my way in a forest of kittar and mimosa bushes. I was obliged to
dismount my camel, and presently got in such a fix that I could scarcely
move either backwards or forwards. Noises became indistinct, and finally,
I could not hear a sound. Others were, apparently, in the same position
as myself, for shots and revolvers resounded on all sides. Eventually we
reached the camping ground in detachments at 8, 9, and 10 o’clock, dining
at 11 p.m., bed at 12.30. In the evening, before dark, we came across the
trail of a boa-constrictor, followed it up, and successfully despatched
the reptile, which measured 12 feet in length. The next day we pitched
our tents at Fahncoub, on very good ground, surrounded by fine trees.
Sogoda was a horrid place, the ground being covered with fine dust.

March 26th.—Starting from Fahncoub at 8.30 a.m., we once more reached
Heikota at 11.30, having travelled a distance of 10 miles only. We found
Herr Schumann, the animal collector, had gone, calling at Kassala, and
taking all the animals with him to Souâkin. I take the opportunity
of sending a letter on to Kassala by Alki, who has been a very good
trustworthy fellow, but who is now leaving us, as he has a bad whitlow.



CHAPTER XXIII.

    AN ABYSSINIAN IMPROVISATORE AND HIS LITTLE SLAVE—PREPARE FOR A
    MARCH TO MASSAWA—A STRANGE BASÉ BREAKFAST—PATIENTS—ARRIVE AT
    TOODLOAK—BENI-AMIRS ENCAMPED ON THE GASH—LIONS AND LEOPARDS
    ARE SHOT—OUR MONKEYS IN CAMP—BABOON MODE OF ATTACKING
    LEOPARDS—CRAFTY BABOONS—LIONS ABOUND—HYÆNA METHOD OF ATTACKING
    A LION—HYÆNA INTERVIEWS MR. COLVIN—ARRIVAL AT AMADEB—DEPARTURE
    FROM AMADEB—BAREAS ATTEMPT AN ATTACK ON THE CARAVAN—BENI-AMIRS
    WATERING THEIR FLOCKS AND HERDS—WE MEET WITH A YOUNG
    ELEPHANT—LEOPARD AND HYÆNA SHOT AT KHOR-BARAKER.


March 27th.—A great part of the morning was occupied with sorting out the
heads of antelopes, buffalos, &c. I was particularly engaged in attending
to about 50 patients in the morning, and perhaps 20 or so in the evening.
Many of them had come from long distances to see the “Hakeem.”

In the afternoon a little Abyssinian boy, about 12 years of age (an
improvisatore), made his appearance, accompanied by his slave (a small
black boy), perhaps seven or eight years of age, carrying a rude native
instrument with three or four strings on it, something like a banjo. He
favoured us with a song, in which the word “Ingelese, Ingelese” occurred
very frequently. The interpretation of the whole song I do not know, but
it referred principally to the prowess of the English in the Abyssinian
war. On being asked if he would sell this instrument, he replied—

“No, I cannot do that; it is my father and my mother.”

The young rascal had saved up all his money and bought the little black
boy as his slave. He was delighted on seeing a scrap-book and a small
musical box. These Mr. James presented him with, also a dollar, which the
youngster handed over to his slave with quite the air of a superior.

March 28th.—To-morrow we hope to be on the march once more. To-day we
are much engaged in securing fresh camels and camel-men for the march to
Massawa. I was employed for fully two hours in the morning, and again in
the evening, in relieving the several necessities and tribulations of my
Arab friends.

March 29th.—Physic again greedily sought for by Hamrans, Beni-Amirs,
Shukeriyahs, and Hadendowahs. I was engaged in dispensing from breakfast
time until near luncheon time, and again all the evening until dark. If
we do not move away from Heikota the medicine chest will soon be empty,
for these people seem to positively enjoy mixtures and pills. In the
evening, after dinner, all our late camel-men and horse-boys were paid
off, each one receiving five dollars backsheesh, and a good knife and
a razor, which are much prized. I have already spoken of the wonderful
digestive powers of the Basé people, but they exceeded my wildest
expectations, for on the 26th a circumstance occurred whilst we were on
the march that convinced me they could digest anything from a boot to a
pair of trousers, even with a man inside of them. Had anyone recounted
the anecdote to me I daresay I might have been somewhat incredulous, and
I cannot blame anyone, who does not know me, for being the same. However,
they can please themselves as to whether they believe what I am going to
state or not. I can vouch for the fact as I saw it myself.

In front of my camel, whilst on the march, were two Basé. One of them
found that a portion of his sandal (made of buffalo hide) had worn away
and came off; he was a careful Basé and wasted nothing. Feeling rather
hungry, the owner of the sandal pounded the bit of seceding sandal
between two pieces of stone, and having done so began to masticate it.
The other Basé man, who had secured a bit of the toothsome morsel,
evidently thought this a superfluous proceeding on the part of his
comrade, so incontinently proceeded to masticate it without this
preliminary precaution. Their teeth certainly are good, even beautiful,
and would be envied by any drawing-room belle, and I am sure their
digestive powers would also be envied by any individual living—no need of
Richardson’s Peptacolos here. I would recommend the party who wrote about
“The Stomach and Its Trials” to peruse the above instructive anecdote.

March 30th.—This morning, after breakfast, my tent was surrounded again
with the patients, who had arrived from all parts, far and near, on
camels, on donkeys, and on foot. Amongst them was one old man who, after
the approved native fashion, squatted on his haunches, holding out a
little squeaking chicken, about a week or two old, at arm’s length,
calling out “Hakeem howaga” (doctor, sir). This he continued at intervals
for about a quarter of an hour, until I had got rid of many patients.
What he intended this diminutive chicken for, unless as a present, I
was at a loss to understand; but when, at last, his turn came, I soon
discovered through Mahoom why the old man was so importunate. Yesterday
he came complaining of his eyes. I then told him he must procure a small
bottle for some lotion. “And now,” said Mahoom, laughing till he could
hardly stand, “he bring you dis little chicken.” What he thought I was
going to do with the chicken I don’t know, unless he expected me to smash
it up, and with it make a lotion for his eyes. On my previous visit I
gouged out some diseased bone from a boy’s foot, straightened the leg
of another boy who had suffered from a contracted knee, and so on. My
fame spread; hence the influx of patients suffering from all kinds of
diseases, curable and incurable. At 11.30 a.m. we left Heikota, reaching
Toodloak at 7 p.m., where we encamped on very dusty ground.

March 31st.—Here we found a very large village of Beni-Amirs encamped
on the Gash, who may be likened to locusts, as they remained at Heikota
until the animals had eaten up everything there; then they moved away to
pastures new. Toodloak is quite a lion neighbourhood. An immense zareeba
had been constructed on the river-bed in a large circle. Within this was
an inner circle formed by the huts of the tribe, and into that inner
circle many hundreds of camels, sheep, cattle, and goats are every night
driven in for protection from the wild beasts; yet, notwithstanding this,
a lion will sometimes leap the barrier and bound off with, a sheep or a
goat. Temp. 100° F. in the shade. The nights are now much warmer than
they were three weeks ago.

April 1st.—Last night two lions, a lioness, and two leopards were shot,
and all secured except one lion. We saw no less than seven or eight last
night. The lion was a very fine fellow, measuring nine feet two inches
from nose to tip of his tail. Sali cut a bit of the lion’s liver, to make
him brave, as he said—a quite unnecessary proceeding, for he once was
plucky enough to enter the jungle in search of a wounded lion, and that
is what few would care to do.

April 2nd.—Lions are plentiful here. Last night they made a great noise
round the camp, probably attracted thither by the sheep and goats. The
Arabs had to mount guard over these, walking round in couples with spears
and shield, and shouting to keep them away. Last night the party went out
in couples at considerable distances apart. Each couple was ensconced
in a small zareeba, in front of which was a goat or sheep, tethered to
a stake driven in the ground, to tempt a lion. Opposite Mr. Colvin’s
zareeba, whilst he was patiently waiting inside for a lion to make his
appearance, he had the mortification to see one leap on to his sheep,
seize him, and bound off again with the sheep, pegs and rope ere he could
get a fair shot at him; he discharged his rifle, but missed his lion. The
heat is so great to-day that it is quite uncomfortable to walk across the
river-bed in slippers—104° F. in the shade. To-morrow we shall probably
start afresh, and pitch our moving tents a day’s march nearer home.

April 3rd.—All astir this morning preparing for the march to Amadeb,
where we expect to find letters and newspapers from England. We have some
tame monkeys and baboons in camp, which are very amusing and playful.
When we are at breakfast some of them come and watch us, thankfully
receiving any crumbs of comfort we choose to throw them. Although their
movements are quite unfettered, they make no attempt to leave us and
join their comrades who have not been civilized. Baboons, which are very
large and strong, will sometimes form themselves into a limited liability
company for the purpose of attacking a leopard, relieving one another at
intervals; then, at last, when they think a favourable opportunity has
arrived, all suddenly swoop down on him at once. They will often lay in
wait for the goats and sheep going to water, then go and suck them whilst
they are drinking; after which refreshing performance these robbers,
not liking to return to their mountain fastnesses empty-handed, will
take the liberty of borrowing a kid from the flock. Last night, about 10
o’clock, we heard lions near camp. One came pretty close to the horses,
causing quite a stampede amongst them; at the same time all the camels
got up, showing signs of great uneasiness. Lions are very numerous here,
hyænas few. When hyænas predominate they will often attack a lion, and
in a very systematic way, too. A number will get in front of him, and
act as designing persons in England sometimes do. They throw dust in
his eyes, then the whole pack will fall upon and make an end of him. At
such times both the lion and hyænas make a great uproar. We heard them
one night, and Sali, who is an excellent tracker, told us that hyænas
were then attacking a lion. We hear that Sheik Ahmed, with a number of
the Beni-Amirs, have made arrangements with the Basé for a shooting
expedition in their country, intending to go as far as Maiambasar, then
cross from there to the Settite. They have a curious way of making
themselves agreeable out there. To make themselves acceptable, they will
take wives from amongst the Basé; then when they leave the country they
leave them behind, at the same time presenting them with a piece of
cloth, some dhurra, and, perhaps, a few dollars.

April 4th.—Marched about nine hours to-day, encamping in a very
mountainous region. Whilst the tents were being pitched, Mr. Colvin
picked up a book, went about a hundred yards from camp, and sat down
under a tree to read. He had not been there long ere he heard something
breathing near him; looked round, and saw a hyæna within a _very_ easy
distance. He naturally got up and made tracks for camp, as he had no
rifle with him. His unwelcome interviewer followed him pretty closely
until he approached the camp. Soon after this, very near to camp, one of
them made for Dra, who drew his sword and shouted. George saw him, and at
once gave him the contents of his rifle.

April 5th.—Marched from 8 a.m., reaching Amadeb, a garrison town, at 8.30
p.m. We travelled a very mountainous region to-day—in one part, for the
distance of a mile or two, over large boulders of marble on the roadway.
On arriving at Amadeb, all were soon busy in reading their letters from
England. The Bey here treated us with great consideration and kindness,
providing us with tea, sugar, milk, biscuits, and cigarettes whilst our
tents were being pitched and we were reading our letters. I had almost
forgotten to mention one very exciting incident during our journey
to-day, and it was this—All our party, except Mr. Colvin and myself,
had gone on considerably in advance of the caravan (we were travelling
along a dry river-bed, consequently on very open ground), when Suleiman
came up in great haste, saying, “Doctor, have you got your rifle ready?
The caravan is going to be attacked in the rear;” and off he went to
inform the others. Colvin and I soon got our rifles and revolvers in
readiness, and trotted back to the rear, where we found our men in a
great state of excitement, leaping about, brandishing their spears, and
insanely yelling, “Whoop! whoop!” which, of course, was no use, but an
inconsiderate way of spending time and ventilating their feelings. Facing
them were, perhaps, 80 or 100 Bareas (akin to the Basé), indulging in
the same lunatic kind of performance. Our reinforcements arrived, in the
shape of George, Anselmia, and the rest of the party. The Bareas, seeing
our strength, then vanished like chaff before the wind. This was destined
to be our last scare. From the information we could gather, it seems
that the Bareas thought our numerous boxes were filled with dollars, and
(according to Dra and Girgas) began pointing their spears towards them
as if on hostile intentions bent. They retaliated by pointing rifles
at them, which had the effect of inciting these fellows into a kind of
war-like dance, accompanied by a significant brandishing of spears; and
there is very little doubt that blood would have been spilt had we not
promptly appeared on the scene.

April 6th.—Amadeb appears to be a tolerably large place. The houses are
made of mud bricks baked in the sun, and are thatched. The whole town
is surrounded by a mud wall. As we did not start until 3 p.m., I had
many patients to attend. At 5 p.m. we encamped on pretty good ground,
surrounded by trees, in which were thousands of doves, about 16 brace of
which Mr. F. James and I soon knocked over, thus providing luncheon for
the next day or two. We found water here.

April 7th.—We marched from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., a distance of about 30
miles. At noon we passed a place where some thousands of camel, cattle,
sheep, and goats were being watered. Of course, at this time of the
year, all the river-courses are dry, and the water has to be drawn up
from deep wells. The Beni-Amirs, and other neighbouring tribes, are a
pastoral people, and owners of enormous herds, on which they wholly
subsist. They produce nothing, and seem to require nothing, except a few
yards of cotton. Their mode of watering the herds is a very laborious
one. On this sandy river-bed I observed about 20 very large but shallow
mud-basins, and close to each basin a well. At the top of each well is an
Arab, provided with a large antelope skin (dressed), fastened around the
sides, and attached to a long rope. This skin he drops into the well, and
hauls up, hand-over-hand, full of water, which he tips into the mud-basin
until it is full. With such insufficient means, of course, a long time is
occupied in filling the basins.

In the afternoon George, who had gone on ahead, came back much excited,
saying there was a young elephant in a wood which could be easily shot,
adding that if he had had an elephant rifle with him he should have been
tempted to let fly. It was fortunate that he had not, for presently we
met the owner of this captured elephant, accompanied by a number of
natives. They had halted for a short time, and had secured the elephant
to a tree by a rope round the neck and leg. He had been captured at
Forfar. His tusks were just protruding. Just as I approached him a native
ran up, saying, “Batal, batal howaga” (bad, bad, sir). The man was right,
for this infant had already wounded five men severely. I, therefore, kept
a respectful distance. The country through which we travelled to-day
was very mountainous, and here and there big plains covered with bushes;
still nothing like so bad as the road before we got to Amadeb.

April 8th.—Marched from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., encamping at Gargee,
situated on Khor-Baraker. We stay here to-night, hoping to secure another
lion. Just after dinner we heard jackals barking very much like dogs.



CHAPTER XXIV.

    A LION NEAR THE CAMP—THE MONKS OF CHARDAMBA—WE MEET ALI DHEEN
    PASHA, GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE SOUDAN—ARRIVAL AT KEREN, OR
    SANHÎT—THE PRIESTS AT KEREN—ACCOUNT OF KEREN—MERISSA—DRA, A
    DOMESTIC SLAVE, MADE FREE—DESCENT FROM SANHÎT TO THE ANSEBA
    VALLEY—THE BIRDS THERE—ALONG THE RIVER-BED OF THE LABAK—A BIG
    MARCH—MASSAWA—FAREWELL TO CAMELS—MASSAWA TO SOUÂKIN—TAKE IN
    CARGO—FAREWELL TO THE SOUDAN—ARRIVAL AT SUEZ.


April 9th.—About 9 o’clock we were off again, halting at 5.30 p.m. at
Adatur, on the River Bogoo. A fine leopard and hyæna were shot last
night. About 9 p.m., whilst I was writing my diary, alone in camp, the
others having gone out in search of lions, a native came up to me,
whispering, “Asset, asset, howaga” (a lion, a lion, sir). It was a lovely
moonlight night, so light that I could see to read or write distinctly.
I looked on to the river-bed in the direction indicated by the Arab, and
there, 40 yards off, I plainly saw a noble-looking lion. I was not long
in obtaining a rifle from my tent, and following him up the river-bed;
but to no purpose, as he was too far off to risk a shot at him. Finally
he turned off into a large palm grove on the opposite side, where, of
course, I did not follow him. I am told that about 14 years ago all this
neighbourhood belonged to Abyssinia, but now belongs to Egypt. From
this spot, not very far off, we noticed a most precipitous mountain,
called Chardamba, in Abyssinia; it is almost inaccessible, and can only
be ascended by taking off one’s shoes and stockings, on account of the
smoothness of the stones, at least, so Mr. Phillipps says. He and some of
his party had the curiosity to climb it last year, and nearly got killed
by stones being rolled down on them, for on the very summit of this
mountain dwell some monks who have quite eschewed the pomps and vanities
of this world. Many of them are withered, shrivelled old fellows who have
lived there without once coming down for the space of 30 or 40 years,
and, to all appearance, are one or two hundred years old. They possess a
deep well, a chapel, each one a separate apartment or den, and they grow
a little dhurra.

The next day we marched from 7.30 a.m. until 5.30 p.m., encamping
at Ashdera. On the road we met, about 1 p.m., Ali Dheen Pasha, the
Governor-General of the Soudan (who succeeded Ali Riza Pasha, a most
unpopular governor). He was coming from Massawa, and, I believe, going
on to Kassala. We had a very long pow-wow with him. He informed us that
our Abyssinian affair had created quite a sensation in Cairo, that the
Minister of the Interior had telegraphed to him asking if we were safe,
and that the Mudir of Kassala had been dismissed for not sending soldiers
with us, which, by the way, was not his fault, for we would not have
them. The palace at Massawa was built by Gordon Pasha when Governor of
the Soudan. This Ali Dheen kindly placed at our disposal, until a boat
could take us to Suez.

On the 10th April a march of about 10 miles only brought us to Keren,
or Sanhît. Soon after our arrival Réschid Pasha sent an officer, whom
Ali Dheen Pasha had sent on, to inquire if we had arrived safe, and
were comfortable. From here we sent telegrams to Massawa respecting
boats to Suez. Although our journey was a short distance, it took us
a considerable time to accomplish it. I should think, for about the
distance of a mile, we traversed a most precipitous ascent in a zig-zag
fashion; this was not far from Keren. On reaching the summit we found
ourselves in quite a different kind of country. We soon paid a visit to
the priests at Keren, who have an excellent garden. They kindly sent
us some fine cabbages leeks, carrots, potatoes, and lettuce. As we had
not seen anything of this kind for months they were, of course, a great
luxury for dinner in the evening. In the afternoon the army doctor (who
could speak French tolerably well) called on me, and as I had almost
finished my campaign I gave him the greater part of the contents of my
medicine chest. In the afternoon the tom-toms were set going, accompanied
by the peculiar trilling note of the women, to express their joy at our
arrival. They had heard that we had all been killed by the Abyssinians,
our men also, many of whom came from here—Ali Bacheet, Dra, Girgas,
and Mahomet Zanzimeer. The latter was thus called because he generally
attended to our zanzimeers when we arrived in or started from camp. Pere
Picard and another priest dined with us in the evening. After dinner
about 60 children, well clothed, nice and clean, from their schools, came
to witness the mysteries of the magic lantern; not only they, but Réschid
Pasha, with a number of officers, came also, and were much pleased. When
they took their departure rockets, together with red and blue fires, were
let off.

Keren, or Sanhît, is the capital and only town of Bogos. It is 4,469 feet
above the level of the sea, on the edge of the highlands of Abyssinia,
and on one side of a table-land, about four miles long by two broad,
surrounded by hills. Being situated in such a high position, it is
healthy at all times of the year.

This elevated plateau has for its southern boundary the Abyssinian
mountains, which come down to within about two miles of the town, which
is built just outside the gates of the fort, and consists of two short,
broad streets of very poor Greek stores, and some clusters of Abyssinian
houses and Arab huts.

About a mile distant across the plateau is the French monastery. With
the exception of the Pasha’s residence, the monastery and its adjacent
buildings are the only respectable-looking habitations there. They
have an Amharic printing press for publishing Bibles in the native
tongue, schools for educating Abyssinian boys for the priesthood, also
for the education of girls. When I was there, about four priests and a
few sisters fed, clothed, lodged, and educated upwards of 80 boys and
50 girls. They had a good schoolroom, chapel, dormitories, pharmacy,
and harmonium, which latter one of the sisters play. The children, who
looked very clean and orderly, sang very nicely a hymn in French for our
especial benefit. These priests print, bind books, have carpenter’s and
blacksmith’s shops, a dairy, vegetable garden, and appear to be a very
useful community, exercising, I should say, a great deal of self-denial
by residing in such a place as they do. They cannot certainly have a very
festive time of it, for the Egyptian authorities regard them as spies,
while, on the other hand, the Abyssinians, who distrust them, will not
allow them into their country. I must speak of these priests as I found
them. None of us were Roman Catholics, but they behaved with very great
kindness to us; and we must award them a great degree of credit for the
civilizing influence they exercised amongst these waifs and strays. The
thought that occurred to me was that if Roman Catholic priests could
be doing all this good, why not English missionaries also? There is
generally a garrison of about 1,000 soldiers at Keren. There is scarcely
any trade, as merchants will not risk their lives and goods, knowing the
hostility of the Abyssinians, who are anxious for the recovery of Keren
and the lost province of Bogos, added to which the Egyptian policy is
to isolate Abyssinia, thereby preventing the importation of arms and
ammunition for King John’s army. The Beni-Amirs and other neighbouring
tribes, who are all owners of large herds, on which they wholly subsist,
are the Egyptian subjects. Fuel is scarce, as it has to be brought from
the Anseba valley, four miles distant. Water also has to be brought
from a distance, but there is a well inside the fort which supplies the
garrison. Dhurra is dear, as the continual dread of Abyssinian raids
prevents people from cultivating, also from building decent houses. There
are no camels, and very few horses and mules.

[Illustration: MOUNTAIN PASS NEAR KEREN OR SANHÊT]

I once tasted at Kassala a kind of beer made from dhurra, called merissa,
and thought it exceptionally nasty. It is probably the same as that
mentioned by Herodotus, and is in common use in the Soudan and Upper
Egypt. I was again induced by a native, who thought he would be attentive
to me for some little professional attendance I had given to taste this
vile liquid. Thinking, perhaps, it might not be so nauseous as my last
dose, I drank some, and acted like a stoic and philosopher, for I did not
exhibit any outward and visible sign of the rebellious feelings taking
place within. But “no matter;” I mentally resolved that in whatever part
of the Soudan I might at some future time find myself, I would never
again degrade my esophagus by allowing any merissa to glide down it,
for I would just as soon have taken one of my own vile black draughts,
and infinitely have preferred a bottle of Bass’s pale ale. I have no
hesitation in saying that if merissa—a very euphonious name, so much
like Nerissa—was the usual beverage in England, the Blue Ribbon Army
would find in me a very ardent supporter, as it is more unpalatable,
thick stuff than schliva (a Bosnian drink, made from the juice of prunes,
possessing a strong asafœtida flavour). Merissa is made from dhurra,
which is allowed to germinate in the sun, then reduced to flour by
hand-mills. This, again, is converted into dough, boiled, and left to
ferment. I hope that if I ever again pollute my lips with merissa—not
Nerissa—I may be served in the same way, that is, that I may germinate in
the sun, be ground into powder, made into a pulp, boiled, and allowed to
ferment.

To-day a circumstance occurred in camp, illustrative of a curious custom
existing in the Soudan. Dra, who has been with us as a native servant
ever since we left Kassala, is, we find, a slave. Some altercation took
place this morning between Dra and another native, when the latter called
him a slave. This excited Dra’s anger to such an extent that he talked
about knifeing his accuser. However, Messrs. James and Co. enquired
into the matter, and found that he was what they call a slave—what we
should call a domestic slave or bondsman—and that it came about in this
way—Dra’s father had, some time ago, “pinched” a cow, _i.e._, purloined
it. He was ordered to pay back two within a month; failed to do so. The
fine was then doubled every month, until he owed about a hundred cows.
As there was just about as much probability of his being able to pay his
fines as there would be of my paying the National Debt, he and all his
children and children’s children became bondsmen and bondswomen of the
creditor. Should Dra, who was single, desire to marry, he would find it
difficult, under such circumstances, to obtain a wife; but should he
succeed in doing so, and children be born to him, all the males would
be slaves, and the females _compelled_ to become public women. This
little matter was talked over in the evening at the dinner table, when it
was ascertained that his freedom could be secured by the payment of 35
dollars, which my colleagues gave to the priests to effect his freedom
with. They say that papers will have to be made out and signed by the
Pasha at Keren, and that on payment of the 35 dollars he will be free. A
man then goes round the town with a trumpet, and proclaims the fact in
all directions. This, I am told, is quite typical of the system in vogue
here.

On the 11th of April, at 11 a.m., we were once more on the road to
Massawa, encamping at 5 p.m. at Gubana. Ere we left Keren a donation in
aid of the schools was given by the party, and the priests very kindly
sent us a sack of potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. As we had been without
fresh vegetables so long, these were really quite a treat. We descended
from Sanhît into the Anseba valley. About a mile from the town, in the
lowlands, were the gardens of the priests, full of vegetables, growing in
the most luxuriant manner. The trees, too, flourished, and were covered
with beautiful green foliage. Here, on reaching the river-bed, we found a
little water actually on the surface.

April 12th.—To-day we travelled 10 hours through quite a different kind
of country to what we have lately been accustomed. A great variety of
lovely plumaged birds are abundant in the Anseba valley. Even the doves
here are tinged with bright yellow, green and blue. I managed to secure
some specimens of them, the brilliant plumaged rollo-birds, paroquets,
and a fine eagle. Soon after starting our route lay up the side of a
frightfully precipitous mountain. The ascent was made by a most tortuous
pathway, where in very many places the camels walked on the brink of a
fearful abyss. Having at last reached the summit of this mountain in
safety, our descent was made by an equally horrible pathway, after which
we travelled for the greater part of our journey along a dry river-bed,
surrounded on each side by steep, precipitous mountains covered with
large cactus trees in full bloom, and gaunt, leafless, but enormous
baobob trees, and, of course, the never-to-be-forgotten prickly mimosas,
but I saw much less gum arabic exuding from them there than I did in the
Basé country. Large tamarisk trees, also, were numerous. The branches of
all kinds of trees lay scattered about in the greatest profusion, the
natives having chopped them off for the goats, sheep, and cows to feed on.

On the 13th April, another 10 hours’ march brought us to Kalamet, where
we pitched our tents for the night, having travelled through very
wild and picturesque scenery, the greater part of the distance being
along the river-bed of the Labak. Water was very near to, and in some
places on, the surface. For a distance of about two miles we journeyed
along a very deep pass; on either side of us extremely rugged, lofty,
precipitous crags, clothed with cactus trees and other bushes, through
which we occasionally discerned jackals and wild goats peeping at us with
astonishment. Scarcely any birds of any description were seen this day.
The pass, I believe, is called El Ain; a representation of it appeared
some months ago in the _Graphic_. Our camping and marching, like Bedouin
Arabs, is now nearly at an end, for in another day or two we expect to
reach Massawa, once more set our eyes on the Red Sea, and a steamer, don
decent apparel, and return to civilized life.

Our next day, April 14th, was occupied in marching to near Kamfar, a
distance of about 27 miles. This was an easy road for the camels, as
the greater part of the distance was along level ground, covered with
mimosas, more like the desert near Souâkin. We came across a few jackals,
ariels, gazelles, falcons, and extremely beautiful diminutive sun-birds,
so small that they ought to be shot with sand.

April 16th.—At 7.30 a.m. we once more, and for the last time, mounted our
camels, and made a good march of about 32 miles, arriving at Massawa at
8.30 p.m. Some of our Arabs had never before had an opportunity of seeing
the Red Sea; now that they did, their delight seemed great. We should not
have made such a long march to-day but that a messenger had been sent
from Massawa to meet us with the information that an Italian steamer
(Rubattino line) would be leaving on the morrow, and that if we missed
that we might, perhaps, have to wait two or three weeks ere we should get
another. However, we did not intend to wait, for we should have chartered
a stambouk from there to Aden, there catching a P. and O. boat for Suez.

Massawa, the principal sea-port of Abyssinia, is on a small barren
coral island in the Red Sea, about a mile long, by 400 yards broad, at
the northern extremity of the Bay of Arkeeko. It is connected with the
mainland by a causeway a mile in length, built across the shallow water.
There are barracks and huts for about 1,000 soldiers. It is badly off
for water. This has to be carried two miles to the town. The town is
built partly of stone and coral, but most of the houses are constructed
of poles and bent grass, and surrounded by a reed fence. The most
considerable buildings are the mosques, the houses of the traders, and a
few warehouses, which are built of coral, and the bazaar.

The surrounding country is little cultivated, and industry paralysed
by fear of raids by the Abyssinians. But little trade is done with the
Soudan; formerly a brisk trade was done with slaves, and that seems
likely to be the case again. Most of the imports come from Abyssinia.
They are grain, gold, cotton, manufactures, glass-wares, spices,
arms, cutlery, hides, butter, wines and spirits. Principal exports,
rhinoceros-horns, gold, ivory, honey and wax.

As usual, vexatious export and import duties are imposed by Egypt. No
guns or powder are allowed to be imported. There are very few camels, and
horses and mules are scarce and dear. The population has been estimated
at about 4,000. The island is dependent on Egypt, and is ruled by a
governor appointed by the Khedive. The chief inhabitants of Massawa are
a few Greeks and Italians, an Italian and French Consul, one Englishman,
and a small colony of Banians, through whose hands almost all the trade
passes.

On arriving at Massawa I took my leave of camel riding, and cannot say I
was sorry, having ridden, probably about 2,000 miles on caravan camels,
which roared at me when I mounted them, roared when I dismounted, roared
if I passed them, and roared if I looked at them. My knickerbockers were
just about done for, and I should not like to say how many hours I had
spent in repairing them, on two occasions, with a girba cut up. The Bey
soon put in an appearance; had a bit of a pow-wow; gave us coffee and
cigarettes, then showed us to the palace, where we had our camp-beds once
more unfolded.

April 17th.—So much had to be done to-day—paying servants, selling
camels, and tents, &c., that we found it impossible to get away. Word to
this effect was sent to the Italian steamer, so the Captain has postponed
his departure until to-morrow. Abdullah, a negro, who had always seen
to getting my camel ready, helping to pitch and take down my tent, and
otherwise proved a faithful henchman, presented me with his spear,
and kissed my hand. I rewarded him with a small pin-fire revolver, 50
cartridges, a good knife, a razor, two dollars, and my knickerbockers.
His delight was unbounded, possibly at receiving the last-named
unmentionables. I am told that at an island near here a considerable
pearl fishery is carried on, and that at another island close by large
quantities of fine melons are grown.

[Illustration: THE CAUSEWAY AT MASSAWAH.]

At 8.15 a.m. the next morning we took our leave of the Soudan. The Bey
had received orders to pay us every attention. He accordingly sent a
gunboat, manned by sailors of the navy, with an officer, and we were at
once rowed off to our steamer, bound for Suez. In the evening of the
next day, at 5.30 p.m., we anchored at Souâkin. I and two others went
ashore and spent the evening with Mr. Bulay (who was always most kind
and obliging), returning to the ship at 10.30 p.m. All sorts of dreadful
reports about the attack of the Dembelas on us had reached him, which,
fortunately, were not true. Other startling news he gave us, such as that
the Queen had been again shot at; that Arabi Pasha was getting a power
in the State, and that the Khedive was likely to be dethroned, and Arabi
substituted.

About an hour before we dropped anchor at Souâkin some of our boxes
arrived from Kassala. We are likely to remain here two or three days
taking in cargo. The day before we left Souâkin a French Consul
and two American gentlemen (a doctor and missionary, who were at
Shepheard’s Hotel in November last at the same time that we were), came
on board. They had been to the White Nile. We have quite a menagerie
on board—parrots, paroquets, tiger-cats, jackals, monkeys, baboons,
extraordinary looking geese, two enormous tortoises, and other animals.
We took on board a good many cattle for Suez, and left the Soudan for
good at 9 a.m. next day, April 22nd, arriving, after a very pleasant, but
warm voyage, at Suez about 3 a.m. At 8 we went ashore and breakfasted at
the Suez Hotel. Of course Mr. Clarke, the excellent and obliging manager
of this hotel, related the usual tale of our horrible massacre, &c.



CHAPTER XXV.

    SUEZ TO CAIRO—ALEXANDRIA—ON BOARD THE “MONGOLIA”—PASSENGERS
    ON BOARD—HIBERNIAN HUMOUR—VENICE—THE PIAZZA OF ST. MARK—THE
    CAMPANILE—THE PIAZETTA—THE ZECCA, OR MINT—THE PALACE OF THE
    DOGES—ST. MARK’S—THE ARSENAL.


April 27th.—Heads and skins had to be sorted out, turpentined, packed and
sent by sea from Suez, together with Mahoom and Girgas, the latter an
Abyssinian whom Mr. Phillipps is taking home with him as a servant. On
the 28th we left Suez for Cairo, arriving there at about 5 p.m., where I
found several letters awaiting me—some of rather old dates. Of course the
wildest reports of our massacre had reached Cairo, and been the topic of
the day at the time. Our stay in Cairo was of short duration this time,
as we found the Peninsular and Oriental Company’s steamboat _Mongolia_
would be leaving Alexandria on the 4th May. Messrs. Colvin and Aylmer
went on to India, but the rest of us started for England.

Leaving Alexandria on the 4th, with a goodly number of passengers, about
120, we had a pleasant voyage to Venice, passing on the 5th the Morea,
Navarino, and Caudia, on the 6th Xante and Cephalonia, and on the 7th
arrived at Brindisi, viewing Montenegro and Corfu in the distance. There
we got rid of the mails, and fully half the passengers, and at 6 p.m.
on the 8th steamed up the grand canal, and soon arrived at Venice, the
Queen of the Adriatic, the home of poetry and song. How pleasant it was
to find myself, after all this Arab life, comfortably housed at the Hotel
d’Italie, amongst civilized people, I will leave the reader to judge.
There were a great many notables on board, amongst them several ladies
connected with officials in Cairo. We knew that matters were a little
unsettled in Egypt at this time, and so drew our own conclusions. These
ladies were being sent out of the way, and within 3 or 4 weeks after I
had seen the last of the great square in Alexandria it was in ruins.
There were on board big men and little men, both in stature and in their
own estimation. There were fat men and thin men, agreeable and chatty
men, disagreeable and morose men, humble and meek men, busy and sleepy
men, easy-going looking men, one or two of the “Ah! I see, thanks, I’ll
not twouble you” kind of fellows, Colonels, Lieut.-Colonels, and other
officers, Governors and Judges returning home on leave of absence, and
genial, good-hearted, jolly sort of fellows. I acted here, as I always
do at home, avoided the starchy “Ah! I see—not-twouble-you kind of
fellows,” full of their own importance, whose brains are concentrated
in their nicely-polished boots, &c., and fraternised with the sociable,
sensible, good-hearted kind. Amongst them was one of my own profession,
brimful of Hibernian humour and mirth. He was a brigade-surgeon in the
68th in India, where he had been for 25 years, and was now on leave of
absence. Dr. Kilkelly and I conceived a mutual regard for one another.
He and I, with a Judge from Cawnpore, a Colonel and Lieut.-Colonel,
generally got together on the deck, enjoying ourselves very comfortably
until we parted. I cannot remember all the jokes and witticisms of our
friend, Dr. Kilkelly, but I do remember one circumstance that amused us
all immensely, and caused great laughter, as much in the way of saying
it as the thing that was said. We had been having a great talk about
the Soudan. When I happened to say “Two of our party are going on from
Cairo to India, and will not be in England until this time next year,”
the doctor exclaimed, “Sure, ye don’t say they are going on there now? I
could not have thought a man in his senses would be going to India now.
Do ye know what it is like this time of the year?”

“Hot, I suppose,” said I, whilst the others smoked their pipes and looked
amused, evidently expecting some “rale Irish joke.”

“Well, then, I’ll tell ye,” said our humorous friend, with a merry
twinkle in his eye, and a really comic aspect; “d’ye know, docthor, when
I have been in India this time of the year I have often made the natives
dig a grave for me to lie in, half fill it with grass and pour buckets
of cold wather on me to keep me from melting. I’ll tell ye another
thing—cholera is so bad at this time of the year, that, by the Viceroy’s
orders, coffins of all sizes are kept ready at the railway stations, and
when the ticket-collector goes round, saying, ‘Yere tickets, plase,’ he
finds a poor divil in the corner who does not respond; looks at him,
finds him dead, pulls him out, finds a coffin the right size, puts him
in, and by St. Pathrick he’s buried before the sun sets. Now what d’ye
think of that? That’s what India’s like this time of the year.”

Of course we all roared with laughter at the voluble and comical way in
which this was said, and I mentally made a note that I should not start
for India in May for my first visit.

Amongst our passengers were two sons of Sir Salar Jung, the Prime
Minister of the Nizam of Hyderabad, on a visit to England. The elder
one, though young, was a very Colossus, and an extremely intelligent,
agreeable fellow, who spoke English fairly well, and was very chatty.
He invited me, if I visited India, to visit him, and promised I should
have some tiger-hunting. Whether I shall ever do so, or he would remember
his promise, I don’t know—probably not. Dr. Kilkelly and I put up at the
same hotel (the Hôtel d’Italie), and spent a few days very pleasantly. I
cannot say I should like to live in a place where, if I enter my front
door, I must step out of a gondola, or if I want to visit a friend I must
cross the street in a gondola; but it is a charming place to pay a visit
to for a few days, especially for a person with a romantic and poetic
turn of mind, and although romance has, to a great extent been knocked
out of me, I still have sufficient of the poetic temperament to have been
highly pleased with my visit to Venice, short though it was.

Pursuing the course I have hitherto adopted, I will not leave Venice
without a brief sketch of it and my visits to various places of great
interest, although, perhaps, repeating an oft-told tale. The man who
ventures on a description of a visit to Venice ought to be thoroughly
imbued with romance and poetry ere he can do justice to his subject.
Under such circumstances I cannot hope to rival many another; but, as
the Yankees say, “I’ll do my level best.” On the evening of my arrival,
I met, by appointment, one of the officers of the _Mongolia_, whom I
accompanied to St. Mark’s Place. The side of the Piazza facing St. Mark
is a line of modern building erected by the French, somewhat in the style
of the Palais Royal at Paris, but yet having some sort of keeping with
the edifices on the south side. They are termed the Procuratie Nuove,
and form the south side, the Procuratie Vecchie the north side. The end
is composed of a French façade uniting the two. Near the east end of the
Procuratie Nuove, just by the point where it makes an angle with the
Piazetta, stands the Campanile of St. Mark. It is, in fact, the belfry
of the Cathedral, although it stands some considerable distance from it.
The separation of the belfry from the church is very common in Italy, and
there are a few instances of it in our own country. On the summit of the
Campanile is a large open belfry to which you ascend in the inside by
means of a series of inclined planes. The sides of the belfry are formed
by sixteen arches, four facing each quarter of the heavens. A gallery
with a parapet runs round the outside. I was told that the First Napoleon
ascended the inclined plane by means of a donkey. I, however, had to
walk it, and was well recompensed for my trouble by the magnificent view
obtained from the summit. Southward lies the noble Adriatic, with the
Pyrenees to the right; northward the Tyrolese Alps; immediately spreading
round this singular post of observation lies the city of Venice,
map-like, with its canals and neighbouring isles; and just under the eye,
to the east, is St. Mark’s Church, considerably below, with its fine
domes, its four bronze horses, its numerous pinnacles, and in front of it
its three tall, red standards.

It is impossible to describe the effect produced on the mind, on a
summer’s evening, as the sun is going down in his glory over the mainland
beyond the lagoons, lighting them up with his parting rays, while the
murmurs of the crowd assembled in St. Mark’s Place ascend like the hum of
bees around the hive door, and the graceful gondolas are seen noiselessly
gliding along the canals. Traversing the Piazza, we find ourselves in
the Piazetta running down from the east end of the great one by St.
Mark’s Church to the water-side, where the eye ranges over the lagoons
and isles. The next side of this open space contains a continuation
of the walk under arcades, which surround St. Mark’s Place. The upper
part exhibits a specimen of the Italian style, designed by Sansovino.
The whole belonged to the royal palace, or Palace of the Doges, which
extends along the south and west sides of the Piazza. Turning round the
west corner of the Piazetta, on the Mole, with the canal in front, we
see another of Sansovino’s works, called the Zecca, or Mint, from which
the gold coin of the Republic derived the name of Zecchino. In front of
the open space and landing steps of the Piazetta are two lofty columns,
which appear so prominently in the pictures of that part of Venice.
They are of granite, and came from Constantinople—trophies of Venetian
victories in the Turkish wars. The right hand column, looking towards the
sea, is surmounted by a figure of St. Mark, standing on a crocodile. The
left hand is surmounted by the lion of St. Mark. The west front of the
ducal palace forms the east side of the Piazetta; the south front runs
along the whole, and looks out upon the sea. They are its most ancient
portions. The front, overlooking the Piazetta, is composed of two rows of
arcades, one above the other; the lower a colonnade, the upper a gallery,
surmounted by a very large and lofty surface of wall of a reddish
marble, pierced by fine large windows. One gentleman says of it, “The
ducal palace is even more ugly than anything I have previously mentioned.”

Mr. Ruskin, on the other hand, says that, “Though in many respects
imperfect, it is a piece of rich and fantastic colour, as lovely a dream
as ever filled the imagination, and the proportioning of the columns and
walls of the lofty story is so lovely and so varied that it would need
pages of description before it could be fully understood.”

Having done the Campanile, and strolled round the Piazza and Piazetta, we
took our seats in the Piazza. On the west and south sides, as well as the
north, the lower part of the buildings under the arcades is appropriated
to shops or cafés. The latter are particularly celebrated. Towards sunset
the area of St. Mark’s Place is overspread with tables and chairs, where
ladies and gentlemen are seated at their ease, as if in a drawing-room,
taking refreshments. A space in the middle is left for promenaders, and
when the military band is playing, which it does two or three times a
week, the concourse is immense, and the scene very lively and charming,
enabling one to realise the saying of Bonaparte, “The Place of St. Mark
is a saloon of which the sky is worthy to serve as a ceiling.”

Having enjoyed the sweet strains discoursed by the military band to our
heart’s content, we took our departure, my companion to his ship, and I
to my hotel.

The following day was occupied in various ways by Dr. Kilkelly and
myself. In the first place we, of course, paid a visit to the Palace
of the Doges. If those walls could speak, how many tales of horror and
cruelty they could unfold! Our visit to some portions of the Palace
enabled us to vividly imagine some of them. Of course, in many of the
trials here, whatever may be thought of the sentence inflicted, guilt,
and that of a heavy kind, was proved against the accused. The place was
not always a slaughter-house for innocence, a butchery for men guilty of
light offence. Grave crimes against the State were here disclosed, and
the memory especially dwells on that night in the April of 1855, when
Marino Faliero, a traitor to the Government of which he was the head,
was arraigned before his old companions in office, and when the sword
of justice, covered with crape, was placed on the throne which he had
been wont to fill. A very minute inspection of the Doge’s Palace was
not practicable, for two reasons; one was want of time, the other the
impatience of my friend. Whilst in the Council Chamber of the Senate,
and for a minute or so looking at the largest painting I ever saw in
my life, “The Day of Judgment,” my hasty friend seized me by the arm,
exclaiming, “Come along, do;” and soon afterwards, when I was deeply
engaged in the futile endeavour _apparently_ of dislocating my neck by
looking at the painted ceilings, and getting up the requisite enthusiasm
for the marvellous productions of some of the masterpieces of Titian,
Paulo Veronese, and Tintoretto, I was told to “Come along, docthor. Sure
ye’ll have a crick in yer neck, and not be able to eat yer dinner at
all, at all, if ye stand looking at the ceiling in that kind of way;”
and so I allowed my volatile friend to rush me through the Palace of
the Doges, coming away with a hazy recollection of thousands of books,
wondrous paintings, the Council Chamber of the Senate, before whom an
undefended prisoner had formerly appeared; the Council of Ten, where he
generally got deeper in the mire; the Council of Three, whose decrees
were like the laws of the Medes and Persians; and, finally, the dungeon,
or condemned cell, just by one end of the Bridge of Sighs, where he was
strangled within, I think, three days of his condemnation. I was also
shown a dungeon, but not so low down as the condemned cell, where no
ray of light could be admitted, but where the poor wretch had a stone
slab, such as we have in our cellars, to lie upon, and let into the wall
was an opening through which the Grand Inquisitor could calmly gaze on
the torturing process produced by the rack and thumb-screw, and other
ingenious but painful arrangements constructed for blood-letting. Some
of the blood of deceased victims was shown to me on the walls, possibly
like the blood of Rizzio on the floor in Holyrood Palace, renewed once
a year. Of course there were many objects of great interest in the
Doge’s Palace that I should have, no doubt, made many notes of had I
been by myself, but mental notes were all I was permitted to take. Many
people give a free rein to their fancy, and argue much on the origin
of species. This is a free country, and I may form my own idea of the
General Post-Office. Suppose I were to say that it originated from the
Doge’s Palace? but fortunately for us, with a more agreeable class of
men as letter-carriers. I remember to have seen a lion, griffin, or
“goblin damned,” at the head of one staircase, with open mouth, whose
sole object was to receive accusations, true and false, against citizens
of the State, and woe betide him if he came before the Council of Three,
from whom there was no appeal. Here our accusers have to prove us guilty,
there the accused had to prove himself innocent; and I doubt not that,
in those dark ages of cruelty, such a mode had its inconveniences,
necessitating a considerable amount of trouble for nothing on the part of
the accused.

We passed on from the Doge’s Palace to St. Mark’s. This church is very
ancient; it was begun in the year 829, and after a fire rebuilt in the
year 976. It was ornamented with mosaics and marble in 1071. Its form is
of Eastern origin, and it is said its architects, who were ordered by the
Republic to spare no expense, and to erect an edifice superior in size
and splendour to anything else, took Santa Sophia, in Constantinople, for
their model, and seem to have imitated its form, its domes, and its bad
taste. But if riches can compensate the absence of beauty, the Church of
St. Mark possesses a sufficient share to supply the deficiency, as it is
ornamented with the spoils of Constantinople, and displays a profusion of
the finest marbles, of alabaster, onyx, emerald, and of all the splendid
jewellery of the East. The celebrated bronze horses stand on the portico
facing the Piazza. These horses are supposed to be the work of Lysippus;
they ornamented successively different triumphal arches at Rome, were
transported by Constantine to his new city, and conveyed thence by
Venetians, when they took and plundered it in 1206. They were erected on
marble pedestals over the portico of St. Mark, where they stood nearly
six hundred years, a trophy of the power of the Republic, until they
were removed to Paris by Napoleon in the year 1797, and placed on stone
pedestals behind the Palace of the Tuileries, where they remained some
time, until they were again restored to Venice. In St. Mark’s I was shown
two pillars of alabaster, two of jasper, and two of verde antique, said
to have been brought from King Solomon’s temple, also two magnificent
doors, inlaid with figures of gold and silver, and a very large crucifix
of gold and silver, brought from Santa Sophia. I was also shown the
tomb of St. Mark the Evangelist. How true all this is I cannot say, but
perhaps many of my readers would like to know why St. Mark should be so
much thought of in Venice, so much so as to become the patron saint, and
have his name given to the most celebrated and splendid of its churches.
Over a thousand years ago—to be precise, in the year eight hundred and
twenty-nine—two Venetian merchants, named Bano and Rustico, then at
Alexandria, contrived, either by bribery or by stratagem, to purloin
the body of St. Mark, at that time in the possession of Mussulmen, and
to convey it to Venice. On its arrival it was transported to the Ducal
Palace, and deposited, by the then Doge, in his own chapel. St. Mark was
shortly after declared the patron and protector of the Republic; and the
lion, which, in the mystic vision of Ezekiel, is supposed to represent
this evangelist, was emblazoned on its standards and elevated on its
towers. The Church of St. Mark was erected immediately after this event,
and the saint has ever since retained his honours. But the reader will
learn with surprise that notwithstanding these honours the body of the
Evangelist was, in a very short space of time, either lost or _privately
sold_ by a tribune of the name of Carozo, who had usurped the dukedom,
and to support himself against the legitimate Doge, is supposed to have
plundered the treasury and to have alienated some of the most valuable
articles. Since that period the existence of the body of St. Mark has
never been publicly ascertained, though the Venetians firmly maintain
that it is still in their possession, and, as I said before, positively
show the tomb which, they say, covers him.

Our next visit was to the arsenal. This occupies an entire island, and is
fortified, not only by its ramparts, but by the surrounding sea; it is
spacious, commodious, and magnificent.

Before the gate stand two vast pillars, one on each side, and two immense
lions of marble, which formerly adorned the Piræus of Athens. They are
attended by two others of smaller size, all, as the inscription informs
us, “Triumphali manu Piræo direpta” (“Torn from the Piræus by the hand of
Victory”). The staircase in the principal building is of white marble,
down which the French (who invaded Venice) rolled cannon balls, an act of
wanton mischief quite inexcusable, at the same time they dismantled the
Bucentaur, the famous State galley of the Republic—a very Vandal-like act.

Venice, when in the zenith of its fame, might justly be said to bear
a striking resemblance to Rome. The same spirit of liberty, the
same patriot passion, the same firmness, and the same wisdom that
characterized the ancient Romans seemed to pervade every member of the
rising State, and at that time it might truly be said of Venice—

    Italia’s empress! queen of land and sea!
    Rival of Rome, and Roman majesty!
    Thy citizens are kings; to thee we owe
    Freedom, the choicest gift of Heaven below.
    By thee barbaric gloom was chased away,
    And dawn’d on all our lands a brighter day.

But _tempora mutantur_.



CHAPTER XXVI.

    WE HEAR OF THE MURDER OF LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH AND MR.
    BURKE—A GRAND SERENADE ON THE GRAND CANAL—MY JOURNEY FROM
    VENICE TO ENGLAND.


Every evening during our stay in Venice, just about the time we finished
dining in the evening, a gondola full of serenaders would take up their
position just beneath our open window, and sing some of their charming
Italian ballads in a very pleasing style, undisturbed by the rattling
of cabs and omnibuses. Indeed, it seemed very strange, as we wandered
about this town of waterways, spanned by about 360 bridges, never to see
a vehicle or living thing except human beings. Of course, the quietude
that reigned all round was very favourable to the serenaders. One very
favourite song, both with the serenaders and visitors, was called “Santa
Lucia.” This, I think, we had every night, for, if they left this out
of their programme, someone at the hotel would be certain to ask for it.
Venice, as all the world knows, is noted for its glass manufactories. To
one of these, owned by Dr. Salviati, my friend and I wended our steps.
We were much interested on going over the place, and much burdened on
coming out of it, as each of us emerged with an armful of purchases. It
was fortunate for me that my stay was of short duration, as each time I
returned to my hotel after a stroll, I generally did so with an armful of
purchases of some description or other.

Dr. Kilkelly, whose residence was in Dublin, had arranged with me that
we should return to England by a different route to that by which I had
come by. We intended to travel through the Brenner Pass to Munich, then
to Bingen on the Rhine, down that river to Cologne, and on to England,
but as we were to have a grand serenade on the Grand Canal at night,
we postponed the journey until the morrow. Soon after this, whilst
walking along, a large poster of the _Standard_ newspaper attracted
our attention, announcing “The Murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish.” A
paper was soon procured, and there we read the account of his murder
and that of Mr. Burke’s, dastardly deeds that all respectable Irishmen
blush to think of, and which excited the indignation of my friend to
boiling-point. This at once altered his plans entirely. Said he, “I
must start home to-morrow. As head of the family I must get to Dublin at
once; perhaps the place will be under martial law.” I then relinquished
the idea of taking our route, not caring to go by myself, and resolved to
spend another day or so in Venice, returning _viâ_ Turin.

In the evening the doctor, Mrs. and Miss P., and myself made our way to
the water-side, with the intention of engaging a gondola to witness this
grand aquatic _fête_. How we should have got on with the gondolier I
don’t know, as he could only speak his own language; but, fortunately,
I knew just sufficient Italian to pull us out of the difficulty. In
whatever country I remain a few days, my first business is to know the
value of the coins and be able to count in the language of the country.
This I have always found extremely useful, particularly in Turkey,
where the coinage is very confusing to a stranger. A piaster is worth
about 2d. There they have silver, copper, metallic, and paper piasters;
and unless one knows all about the rate of exchanging a Medjidie, the
trusting individual may possibly and probably be the victim of misplaced
confidence.

Having secured our gondola, we pulled up opposite Danielli’s Hotel, a
little way above the Doge’s Palace. Here we found a large floating
stage, occupied by those who were to take part in the serenade. It was
profusely and very prettily decorated with festoons of flowers and
evergreens, among which were interlaced a vast number of variegated
lamps (the centre piece forming quite a tree of these little lamps).
Under this stood the conductor, whilst around him was the orchestra
and singers. This great stage started from opposite Danielli’s Hotel,
drawn by two boats. Following it were hundreds of gondolas jostling one
another on the Grand Canal, each one trying to get as near as possible
to the stage. Those on shore took as much interest in the proceedings
as those on the canals, for at every stoppage—and these occurred very
frequently—a performance took place. Opposite each stoppage there was a
grand pyrotechnic display by those on shore. Our first halt was opposite
the Palace of the Doges and the Piazetta of St. Mark, where numberless
Roman candles, Bengal lights, rockets, &c., were let off, brilliantly
illuminating the far-famed old Palace, Piazza, Campanile, St. Mark’s,
and all the surroundings, and so on past the hotels (once gorgeous
marble palaces); the Church of Santa Maria della Salute, on the opposite
shore; the Palazzo Foscari, the Academy of Arts, and other palaces,
winding up with a grand scene at the Ponte Rialto. The time occupied
was about three hours, from 9 until 12 p.m. No amount of word-painting
can convey to the reader an adequate description of the scene, which
was most enjoyable throughout. It was a beautiful summer’s night—no
moon, not a cloud; the blue sky studded with bright twinkling stars,
the stage adorned with flowers, evergreens, and hundreds of variegated
lamps; no sound but the splash of the gondoliers’ oar and jostling of
the gondolas; a stop, then sweet strains of music arising from stringed
and wind instruments and two or three dozen well-trained male and female
voices; and every now and then the banks on either side lighting up, by
the illuminations, the grand old churches and fine old marble palaces of
the old Venetian nobility, to each of which is attached a history. It
was a scene which I shall always remember, but which I feel quite unable
to describe as I should wish. Our hotel was soon reached when all was
over, and I went to bed, lulled to sleep by the sweet Italian music of
gondoliers which came floating on the midnight air as they returned home
after this grand serenade.

On the following day my friend, the doctor, started for England. Soon
after his departure Mr. P. and I hired a gondola, and paid a visit to
the Academy of Arts, some of the principal churches, palaces, and
various places of interest, and saw some grand old sculpture, the tombs
of Canova and Titian, and paintings by Rubens, Titian, Tintoretto,
Paulo Veronese and others. I had resolved on the morrow to forsake this
dreamland under the clear blue sky of Italy, and once more rouse myself
to the stern realities of life. Accordingly, I found myself in the train
next day at 9 a.m., with a ticket for Paris. Passing Verona, Padua, and
other interesting places, I arrived in Paris at 5.30 p.m. on the evening
of the next day. A day’s rest there, and I was on my way to dear old
England, which I reached in due time. A trip abroad is mentally and
bodily beneficial, but after wanderings in various countries, I have come
to the conclusion that the most comfortable place to _permanently_ reside
in, provided one is not absolutely devoid of the “almighty dollar”—as the
Americans would say—is “perfidious Albion.”

I have travelled through the waving forests of Austria, miles of charming
vineclad slopes in Hungary, acres of maize, rice, and tobacco fields near
Salonica, the beautiful cypress groves of Scutari, near Constantinople,
roamed over the wild mountains of Bosnia and Montenegro, through classic
Greece and Italy, and traversed the burning sands of Africa; but,
go where I will, nowhere is the general appearance of the country so
beautiful as in old England, where we find the little cottage of the
rustic so prettily embowered amidst fruit trees, shrubs and flowers,
whilst all around are undulating green fields, rippling brooks, and
winding rivers. Nowhere else is there anything to compare to our pretty
country lanes and variegated hedgerows, covered with sweet-smelling
hawthorn, the wild rose, honeysuckle, and the red berries of the ash,
whilst the banks are adorned with foxgloves and beautiful ferns, or
white with primroses, cowslips, and a thousand other wild flowers which
surround fields of waving golden ears of corn and the well-wooded estates
of the landed gentry, that in turn give shelter to the fox, who will
afford sport in the winter, and to the hares, rabbits, partridges, and
pheasants, who will assist in satiating our gastronomic propensities.

It is an Englishman’s privilege to grumble, and whilst living here we
often find a great deal to grumble about, in politics particularly; but I
don’t think there are many who, having travelled abroad continuously for
six, twelve, or eighteen months, will not say with me, on returning home
once more, “England, with all thy faults, I love thee still.”

“A plain unvarnished tale I have unfolded,” and as such, at this
particular time, I trust it will meet with the approbation of the
_majority_ of my readers.

Many faults, I am sure, may be picked out, as I have not only written,
but revised the book myself, instead of employing (as some do) a skilled
and experienced reader. Even had I done so I should still be able to say—

    “Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see,
    Thinks what ne’er was, nor is, nor e’er shall be.”


FINIS.


                      ELEVENTH EDITION. NOW READY.

                      THE STORY OF CHINESE GORDON.

                           BY A. EGMONT HAKE.

      _Demy 8vo., handsomely bound, with Portraits and Maps, 15s._

                          SOME PRESS OPINIONS.

                               The Times.

    “The story of Chinese Gordon’s Life, full as it has been of
    adventure and stirring incident, cannot fail to appeal to a
    wide circle of readers.… The record of Gordon’s career would
    be impressive under any circumstances; but it will be allowed
    to his biographer that he has turned to good use the copious
    materials placed at his disposal, and that this volume is
    worthy the fame of its subject.”

                            Saturday Review.

    “The contents of this book mainly relate to the two most
    prominent questions of the day—the position of China as a
    fighting Power, and the condition of the Soudan; and it appears
    therefore at a most opportune moment.… The present volume will
    prove a valuable guide to politicians at the present crisis,
    as well as a welcome source of information to those who desire
    to learn more than can be gathered from newspaper reports of
    the condition of the Chinese and Army, and of the forces of the
    Madhi.”

                               Spectator.

    “A fresh and connected account of his marvellous campaigns
    against the Taipings and against Zebehr’s black brigade of
    Slavedealers in the Soudan is heartily welcome.… His story is
    not only rich in humility, abnegation, contempt for merely
    objective human pleasures; it reveals to us a singularly happy
    man.”

                                Graphic.

    “A volume which we should like to see in the hands of every
    sub. and of every boy with military aspirations.”

                                Standard.

    “A strong and vivid biography of Chinese Gordon.”

                               Daily News.

    “Few careers of our own or any other time will compare in
    picturesqueness with ‘The Story of Chinese Gordon,’ by Mr.
    Egmont Hake.”

    REMINGTON & CO., HENRIETTA ST., COVENT GARDEN, LONDON.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life in the Soudan - Adventures Amongst the Tribes, and Travels in Egypt, in 1881 and 1882" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home