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ARRIVAL OF THE KEL-UʻLLI.
of the town, which in my career in this place was to become of greater importance to me. Such is the reverence which these Arabs have for the female portion of their tribe. There are, moreover, several women famed for the holiness of their life, and even authoresses of well-digested religious tracts, among the tribe of the Kunta.
Political circumstances were not quite so favorable as my host wanted to represent them to me; as, like many other people, he was not very particular, when endeavoring to obtain a good object, about saying things that were not quite true ; and the following day, when Férreji paid a visit to the sheikh, he designated me as a war-chief and a “mehárebi,” or freebooter, who ought not to be allowed to remain any longer in the town. Altogether it was fortunate that El Bakáy had provided for the worst by send. ing for the Kel-úlli, who arrived in the course of the afternoon, about sixty strong, with great military demonstrations and beating of shields. It was on this occasion that I first made the acquaintance of this warlike tribe, who, notwithstanding their degraded position as Imghád, have made themselves conspicuous by totally annihilating the formerly powerful tribe of the I'gelád and I'medídderen, who in former tires ruled over Timbuktu and were hostile to the Kunta. The Kel-úlli are distinguished among all the tribes of the neighborhood by three qualities which, to the European, would scarcely seem possible to be united in the same person, but which are not unfrequently found combined in the Arab tribes, viz., "réjela," or valor; “sírge," or thievishness; and “dhiyáfa,” or generous hospitality.
CHAPTER LXXII. GREAT CRISIS.—OBLIGED TO LEAVE THE TOWN.-MILITARY
DEMONSTRATION. THERE was now a fair opportunity offered me of leaving the town in an honorable way, under the protection of the friendly Kel-úlli, who for this very purpose had brought with them from the encampment my four camels; but the sheikh missed this favorable occasion by relying too much upon the promised arrival of the great Tawárek chief Alkúttabu. As for our friends the Tademékket, to whom A’hmed Wádáwi, the learned follower of
the sheikh, had been sent as a messenger, they did not come along with him, but sent word that they would follow him as soon as their presence was required, their chief A'wab having gone to raise tribute from the degraded tribe of the Idélebó.
Uncertain as my situation was under these circumstances, I felt cheered by the not very improbable chance of my departure; for at length the last cause which had delayed me so long seemed to be removed by El Bakáy's wife giving birth to a child on the 4th of March. All political as well as domestic circumstances therefore seemed to conspire in rendering it possible for him to accompany me for the distance of some days; and he had really assured me the night before, when I was engaged in a consultation with him till near morning, that I should leave on the following Tuesday; but, having had too much insight into his dilatory character, I told him very plainly that I did not believe a word of it, as he had disappointed me so often. And I had reason to be satisfied with my skepticism, as the phantom of the “ tábu," or the great army of the Tawárek, with whose assistance he hoped to triumph over his enemies, did not allow him to adhere to any fixed plan. Now the “ tábu” was really approaching; and it was merely some unforeseen circumstance, probably owing in part to the machinations of the party publicly or secretly opposed to the authority of the sheikh, which prevented the great chief of all those westerly Tawárek from reaching Timbúktu, and crowning all the hopes and wishes of my protector. .
It was in the afternoon of the 5th that we received undoubted news of the approach of the tábu, the shepherds seeking to secure their flocks by flight, and all those who had reason to fear the wrath or anger of their mighty liege lord endeavoring to reach the islands and creeks of the river as a place of safety. A messenger who arrived from Bamba stated that the tábu had really reached the town of E'gedesh, a few miles beyond Bamba; nay, even the state of the atmosphere seemed to confirm the news of the approach of a numerous host, as it was entirely enveloped in thick clouds of dust. But the sheikh was a little too rash in sending on the 6th a message to El Férreji, giving him official information of the arrival of Alkúttabu. That officer answered, in a manly way, that he must not think of frightening him, and that he himself, if necessary, was fully able to summon an army from Fermágha and from Dar e' Salám, the capital of the Province of Jimbálla on the other side of the river; that he had come to drive
THE “TA'BU."—WHO IS A MOSLIM?
383 me out of the town, and that he would at any cost achieve his purpose; and although the sheikh's rival, Hammádi, seemed to be frightened and came to sue for peace, yet Sídi Mohammed was wearied with his brother's continual procrastination, and from that day forward did all in his power to make me leave the town under any condition, and banish me to the tents.
There is no doubt that, in the event of the "tábu” not arriving, the sheikh's situation became more dangerous in consequence of the arrival of his brother 'Abidín, who entered the town amid a demonstration of firing and music on the afternoon of the 7th. All the three brothers went out on horseback to meet him; but this man, who was bent upon following a policy entirely opposed to that of El Bakáy, took up his quarters with Hammádi, the adversary of the latter. Even the eldest brother was so little satisfied with the sheikh's present policy, that, when I called upon him about midnight of that same day, a very serious conversation arose between the two brothers, Sídi Mohammed asking El Bakay whether they were to fight the Fullán on account of a single individual, and one too of a foreign religion; and reproaching him at the same time with the fact that his preparations did not advance, while on his part he did not think any preparations were necessary at all, as he was sure that not even the tribe of the Igwádaren, who are settled near Bamba, would do me any harm. But the sheikh endeavored to gain time by telling his brother that he would send the following day for the horses from Kábara, and that he would write a letter to some chiefs on the road through whose territory I had to pass.
Having been a quiet spectator of this dispute, I returned to my quarters, and in order to provide against any accident I packed up the remainder of my luggage and made every thing ready for starting. Meanwhile, Sídi Mohammed and A'lawáte, in order to further their plans, had the same afternoon an appointment with 'Abidín and Hammádi, where they probably determined as to the course to be pursued with regard to me: and El Bakáy, who went the same evening to pay a visit to to 'Abidín, seemed to have given a kind of half promise that I should leave in the afternoon of the 10th. But having obtained a short respite, in the course of the following day, he delayed my departure from day to day, expecting all the time the arrival of Alkúttabu.
Meanwhile, Sídi Mohammed had made a serious attack upon my religion, and called me always a káfir. But I told him that I was a real Moslim, the pure Islám, the true worship of the one God, dating from the time of Adam, and not from the time of Mohammed; and that thus, while adhering to the principle of the unity and the most spiritual and sublime nature of the Divine Being, I was a Moslim, professing the real Islám, although not adopting the worldly statutes of Mohammed, who, in every thing that contained a general truth, only followed the principles established long before his time. I likewise added, that even they themselves regarded Plato and Aristotle as Moslemín, and that thus I myself was to be regarded as a Moslim, in a much stricter sense than these two pagan philosophers. I concluded by stating that the greater part of those who called themselves Moslemín did not deserve that name at all, but ought rather to be called Mohammedán, such as we named them, because they had raised their prophet above the Deity itself.
Being rather irritated and exasperated by the frequent attacks of Sídi Mohammed and A'lawáte, I delivered my speech with great fervor and animation; and when I had concluded, Sídi Mohammed, who could not deny that the Kurán itself states that Islám dates from the creation of mankind, was not able to say a word in his defense. As for El Bakáy, he was greatly delighted at this clear exposition of my religious principles, but his younger brother, who certainly possessed a considerable degree of knowl. edge in religious matters, stated, in opposition to my argument, that the Caliphs El Harún and M'amún, who had the books of Plato and Aristotle translated into Arabic, were Met'azíla, that is to say, heretics, and not true Moslemín; but this assertion of course I did not admit, although much might be said in favor of my opponent. At all events, I had obtained some respite from the attacks of my friends; and having thus the support of them all, in the afternoon of the following day, the 10th of March, we went quietly to the tents in order to celebrate the “Sebúwa” (corresponding to the baptism of the Christians) of the new-born child. On this occasion I noticed that the water in the outlying creeks which we passed had only fallen about three feet since the 17th of February, which is less than two inches per day; but it is probable that the water of the principal branch decreases more rapidly than that of these winding backwaters.
The camp was full of animation, the Gwanín el Kohol, a section of the Bérabísh, having taken refuge in the encampment of the sheikh from fear of the Kél-hekíkan, with whom they were
on hostile terms. It was highly interesting for me to be thus brought into close contact with these people, who owe allegiance to the chief that had murdered Major Laing; and, well aware that I could not fail to entertain a strong prejudice against them, they all thronged round me on my arrival, and hastened to assure me of their friendly disposition. They were armed with doublebarreled guns, a weapon which, owing to the trade with the French, is now common through the whole of this part of the desert, the long single-barreled gun, the only favorite weapon with the Arabs to the north, being here regarded with contempt as befitting only the slave. In general, the people were of middle stature, although some of them were fine tall men and of a warlike and energetic appearance, having their shirts, mostly of a light blue color, tied up over their shoulder and girt round the waist with a belt, the powder-horn hanging over the shoulder, quite in the same style as is the custom of their brethren nearer the shores of the Atlantic. Their head was uncovered, with the exception of their own rich black hair, or guffa, which, I am sorry to add, was full of vermin.
The same evening, although it was late, my host, who was certainly not wanting in hospitality, slaughtered five oxen, and in consequence we partook of supper about an hour after midnight. But that was not at all unusual here; and nothing during my stay in Timbúktu was more annoying to me, and more injurious to my health than this unnatural mode of living, which surpasses in absurdity the late hours of London and Paris.
Early the next morning two more head of cattle were slaughtered, and enormous quantities of rice and meat were cooked for the great numbers of guests, who had flocked here together from the town and from all parts of the neighboring district. Amid such feasting the name of Mohammed was given to the new-born infant. The way in which the guests dealt with the enormous dishes, some of which were from four to five feet in diameter, and could only be carried by six persons, bore testimony to the voracity of their appetites; one of these immense dishes was upset, and the whole of the contents spilt in the sand.
But the people were not long left to enjoy their festivity, for just while they were glutting themselves a troop of Kél-hekíkan, the tribe who waged the bloody feud with the Gwanín, passed by, throwing the whole encampment into the atmost confusion. When at length it had again settled down, the festivities proceeded, and
VOL. III.-B B