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of the Tájakart llámed Weled e sich he came to pay m
of the Tájakánt. There was just at the time a man of authority, of the name of Hámed Weled e' Síd, belonging to this tribe present in the town. On one occasion he came to pay me a visit, girt with his long bowie-knife. I had, however, not much confidence in these northern Moors; and seeing him advance through my court-yard in company with another man, I started up from my couch and met him half way; and although he behaved with some discretion, and even wanted to clear his countrymen from the imputation of having murdered the above-mentioned traveler, I thought it more prudent to beg him to keep at a respectful distance.
Just at this time a large foray was undertaken by a troop of 400 Awelímmiden against the Hogár, but it returned almost empty-handed, and with the loss of one of their principal men. Toward the south, the enterprising chief El Khadír, whom I have mentioned on a former occasion, was pushing strenuously forward against his inveterate enemies the Fúlbe, or Fullán, although the report which we heard at this time, of his having taken the town of Hómbori, was not subsequently confirmed. But, on the whole, the fact of this Berber tribe pushing always on into the heart of Negroland, is very remarkable; and there is no doubt that if a great check had not been given them by the Fúlbe they would have overpowered ere this the greater part of the region north of 13° N. latitude. Great merit, no doubt, is due to the Fúlbe for thus rescuing these regions from the grasp of the Berber tribes of the desert, although as a set-off it must be admitted that they do not understand how to organize a firm and benevolent government, which would give full security to the intercourse of people of different nationalities, instead of destroying the little commerce still existing in these unfortunate regions, by forcing upon the natives their own religious prejudices.
The danger of my situation increased when, on the 17th November, some more messengers from the prince of Hamda-Allahi arrived in order to raise the zek'a,* and at the same time we received authentic information that the Fúlbe had made an attempt to instigate A'wab, the chief of the Tademékket, upon whom I chiefly relied for my security, to betray me into their hands. News also arrived that the Welád Slímán, that section of the Berabísh to which belongs especially the chief Hámed Weled 'Abéda, who killed Major Laing, had bound themselves by an
* Of the amount of the zek'a, I shall speak in another chapter.
by the dando my, people
out of the
oath to put me to death. But my situation became still more critical toward the close of the month, when, having once more left the town for the tents, we received information that a fresh party had arrived from the capital with the strictest orders to take me dead or alive. Being therefore afraid that my, people, whom I had left in the town, frightened by the danger, might be induced to send my luggage out of the house where I was lodged, I sent in the course of the night the servant whom I had with me at the time, with strict orders not to move any thing; but, before he reached the town, my other people had sent away my two large boxes to Táleb el Wáfi, the store-keeper of the sheikh. But fortunately I did not sustain any loss from this proceeding, nothing being missed from these boxes, notwithstanding they had been left quite open.
Thursday, December 1st. Having passed a rather anxious night, with my pistols in my girdle, and ready for any emergency, I was glad when, in the morning, I saw my boy return accompanied by Mohammed el 'Aish. But I learned that the people of the town were in a state of great excitement, and that there was no doubt but an attack would be made upon my house the next morning. Thus much I made out myself; but having no idea of the imminence of the danger, in the course of the day I sent away my only servant with my two horses, for the purpose of being watered. But my Tawáti friend seemed to be better informed, and taking his post on the rising ground of the sandy downs, on the slope of which we were encamped, kept an anxious look-out toward the town. About dhohor, or two o'clock in the afternoon, he gave notice of the approach of horsemen in the distance, and while I went into my tent to look after my effects, Mohammed el Khalil rushed in suddenly, crying out to me to arm myself. Upon this I seized all the arms I had, consisting of a double-barreled gun, three pistols, and a sword; and I had scarcely come out when I met the sheikh himself with the small six-barreled pistol which I had given him in his hand. Handing one of my large pistols to Mohammed ben Mukhtár, a young man of considerable energy, and one of the chief followers of the sheikh, I knelt down and pointed my gun at the foremost of the horsemen who, to the number of thirteen, were approaching. Having been brought to a stand by our threatening to fire if they came nearer, their officer stepped forward crying out that he had a letter to deliver to the sheikh; but the latter forbade him to
come near, saying that he would only receive the letter in the town, and not in the desert. The horsemen, finding that I was ready to shoot down the first two or three who should approach me, consulted with each other and then slowly fell back, relieving us from our anxious situation. But, though reassured of my own safety, I had my fears as to my servant and my two horses, and was greatly delighted when I saw them safely return from the water. However, our position soon became more secure in consequence of the arrival of Sídi A'lawáte, accompanied by a troop of armed men, among whom there were some musketeers. It now remained to be decided what course we should pursue, and there was great indecision, A'lawáte wanting to remain himself with me at the tents, while the sheikh returned to the town.
But besides my dislike to stay any longer at the encampment, I had too little confidence in the younger brother of the sheikh to trust my life in his hands, and I was therefore extremely delighted to find that El Bakáy himself, and Mohammed el 'Aish, thought it best for me to return into the town. At the moment when we mounted our horses, a troop of Kélhekíkan, although not always desirable companions, mounted on mehára, became visible in the distance, so that in their company we reëntered Timbúktu, not only with full security, but with great éclat, and without a single person daring to oppose our entrance; though Hammádi, the sheikh's rival, was just about to collect his followers in order to come himself and fight us at the tents. Frustrated in this plan, he came to my protector in his "msíd,” or place of prayer in front of his house, and had a serious conversation with him, while the followers of the latter armed themselves in order to anticipate any treachery, or evil design, of which they were greatly afraid. But the interview passed off quietly, and, keeping strict watch on the terrace of our house, we passed the ensuing night without farther disturbance.
This happened on the 1st of December; and the following morning, in conformity with the sheikh's protest, that he would receive the Emír of Hamda-Alláhi's letter only in Timbuktu, the messenger arrived; but the latter being a man of ignoble birth, called Mohammed ben Saíd, the character of the messenger irritated my host almost more even than the tenor of the letter, which ordered him to give me and my property up into the hands of his (the emír's) people. After having given vent to his anger, he sent for me, and handed me the letter, together with
another which had been addressed to the Emír Kaúri, and the whole community of the town, whites as well as blacks (el bed. hán ú e' sudán), threatening them with condign punishment if they should not capture me, or watch me in such a manner that I could not escape.
The serious character which affairs had assumed, and the entire revolution which my own personal business caused in the daily life of the community, were naturally very distressing to me, and nothing could be more against my wish than to irritate the fanatical and not powerless ruler of Hamnda-Alláhi. It had been my most anxious desire from the beginning to obtain the good-will of this chief by sending him a present, but my friends here had frustrated my design; and even if in the beginning it had been possible—a supposition which is more than doubtful, considering the whole character of the Fúlbe of Hamda-Allahi, it was now too late, as Séko Ahmedu had become my inveterate enemy, and I could only cling with the greater tenacity to the only trustworthy protector whom I had here, the Sheikh el Bakáy. In acknowl. edgment, therefore, of his straightforward conduct, I sent him, as soon as I had again taken quiet possession of my quarters, some presents to distribute among the Tawárek, besides giving the head man of the latter a small extra gift, and some powder and Hausa cloth to distribute among our friends. However, my situation remained very precarious. As if a serious combat was about to ensue all the inhabitants tried their fire-arms, and there was a great deal of firing in the whole town, while the Morocco merchants, with 'Abd e' Salám at their head, endeavored to lessen the sheik's regard for me, by informing him that not even in their country (Morocco) were the Christians treated with so much regard, not only their luggage, but even their dress being there searched on entering the country. But the sheikh was not to be talked over in this manner, and adhered to me without wavering for a moment. He then sat down and wrote a spirited and circumstantial letter to Séko A'hmedu, wherein he reproached him with attempting to take out of his hands by force a man better versed in subjects of religion than he, the emír himself, who had come from a far distant country to pay him his respects, and who was his guest.
The following day, while I was in the company of the sheikh, the Emír Kaúri and the Kádhi San-shírfu, together with several other principal personages, called upon him, when I paid my compliments to them all, and found that the latter especially was a
INTERVIEW WITH AWAB.
335 very respectable man. My friend had provided for any emergency, having sent to the Tademékket, requesting them urgently to come to his assistance; and, in the evening of the 6th of December, A'wab, the chief of the Tin-ger-égedesh, arrived with fifty horse, and was lodged by El Bakáy in the neighborhood of our quarters.
The next morning the sheikh sent for me to pay my compliments to this chief. I found him a very stately person of a proud commanding bearing, clad in a jellába tobe striped red and white, and ornamented with green silk, his head adorned with a high red cap, an article of dress which is very rarely seen here, either among the Tawárek or even the Arabs. Having saluted him, I explained to him the reason of my coming, and for what purpose I sought imána; and when he raised an objection on account of my creed, because I did not acknowledge Mohammed as a prophet, I succeeded in warding off his attack by telling him that they themselves did not acknowledge Mohammed as the only prophet, but likewise acknowledged Músa, 'Aísa, and many others; and that, in reality, they seemed to acknowledge in a certain degree the superiority of 'Aísa, by supposing that he was to return at the end of the world; and that thus, while we had a different prophet, but adored and worshiped one and the same God, and, leaving out of the question a few divergencies in point of diet and morals, followed the same religious principles as they themselves did, it seemed to me that we were nearer to each other than he thought, and might well be friends, offering to each other those advantages which each of us commanded.
We then came to speak about their history. I told him that I had visited their old dwelling-places in Aír, Tíggeda, and Tádmekka; but he was totally unaware of the fanciful derivation which the Arab authors have given to the latter name, viz., “likeness of Mekka,"* which probably never belonged to one town in particular, but has always been the name of a tribe. He felt, however, very much flattered by this piece of information, and seemed extremely delighted when I told him how old the Islám was in his tribe. My little knowledge of these historical and religious matters was of invaluable service to me, and particularly in this instance, for obtaining the esteem of the natives, and for overcom
oul sito, See Coo
* El Bekrí, ed. de Slane, p. 181. Sao ley, “Negroland of the Arabs,” p. 30, n. 52.