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WITHOUT A GUIDE.
513 near our halting-place, which is occupied by a small cemetery, the locality having been formerly enlivened by a hamlet of the I'melíggizen, of the name of Lebbezéya. This encampment was also important to me, as I here had to take leave of our guide, Mohammed Kél e' Súki, whom I had vainly endeavored to persuade to accompany me as far as Say, although he would have had no objection to have fulfilled his promise, if our other guide, HammaHamma, had not broken his word and staid behind, for, alone, he was afraid to trust himself to the Fúlbe. It was, moreover, his intention to proceed from here on a visit to his friends the Událen. Convinced, therefore, of the justice of his arguments, I gave him his present, although I missed him very much, as he was an intelligent man, and had given me some valuable information.
DENSER POPULATION BEGINS. Tuesday, July 18th. The beginning of our journey without a guide was not very fortunate; for, having set out first from our encampment, endeavoring to cut off the great windings of the river, with my camels and my three freed blacks, my companions, in the dawn of the morning, lost the traces of my footsteps upon the grassy undulating ground, and it was some time before they joined me. The ground became at times stony, talha, gerredh, and other spices of mimosas being the predominant trees; and after a march of eight miles, we had to ascend another ridge, clothed with thick forest, where the kúka, or tédumt, the monkey-bread-tree, which I had not seen for so long a time, was very common. This was an almost certain sign of the locality having once been a centre of human life, but at present only the traces of a former ksar, or hamlet, were to be seen. Having then crossed a small “rek” or “faire," that is to say, a barren, naked plain, we descended again, while the desolate character of the country continued, and the only signs of human life which we observed were the traces of two men, with three head of cattle, probably robbers from the other side of the river, who were returning to their haunts with their booty. But gradually the country assumed a more cheerful aspect, being clad with large trees, and exhibiting evident signs of former cultivation, while isolated masses of rock were projecting
VOL. III.-K K
here and there. The country altogether was so pleasant, that, having met with a shallow pond of water in a trough-like cavity of the grassy ground, we decided on encamping, for it was with great difficulty that I was able to drag on my companions more than fifteen miles a day at the utmost.
However, we had scarcely pitched our tents, when we became aware that our camping-ground close beyond the belt of trees with which it was girt was skirted by a small rivulet, which, although full of rocks, was yet so deep that it afforded sufficient room for crocodiles or alligators, and was not fordable here. It was a pity that we had not a guide with us who might have given us some clear information respecting the features of the country, for the conjecture of my companions,* who fancied that this rivulet took its rise to the south of Hómbori, where it was called A'gelé, was quite absurd if it be correct that the Galíndu, which we had crossed the preceding day, was really the lower course of the river near A'ribínda; but it is very difficult to say how these courses correspond, and nothing is more likely than that the same watercourse may join the Niger by several openings. As it was, we had a long dispute as to the manner in which we should cross this water, and the following morning we had to take a tedious roundabout way to get over it.
After a march of two miles from our starting-point we reached a crossway. We followed the advice of the Wádáwi, who, having taken the lead at the moment, chose the path to our left, though that on the right crosses the rivulet at this spot; but in the end it was perhaps as well that we did so, as otherwise we should scarcely have been able to ford it. We therefore continued our march after my companions had finished their prayers, which, as we always set out at an early hour, they used to say on the road. The open pasture-grounds were here broken by large boulders of granite, while the rivulet, girt by fine large trees, approached on our right, or at least one branch of it, the river dividing near its mouth into a delta of a great many smaller branches.
* Among my companions, the Hartáni Máleki, who had visited the countries of Mósi and Bambara, possessed some interesting information concerning unknown or little known districts of these regions; but, unfortunately, he had something very uncouth in his manner, which prevented my learning from him all that would have been possible under other circumstances. This day I wrote down, from his information, the name of the pagan tribe of the Nenmer, who are settled between the Tombo and Bambara, besides that of the Norma, who are chiefly settled in two places, one of which is called Púra.
AYO’RU AND ITS CULTIVATION.
We here changed our direction, keeping parallel along the shore of the great river, where, on a rocky island, was situated the village of Ayóru, or Airu, from whence a troop of about twenty people were just proceeding toward their field-labors. Most of them were tall, well-made men, almost naked, with the exception of a white cap and a clean white cotton wrapper. Two or three of them wore blue tobes. Their weapons consisted of a bow and arrows or a spear, and their agricultural implements were limited to a long-handled hoe of a peculiar shape, such as is called jerrán by the Arabs, and kámbul by the Songhay. But, besides a weapon and implement, each of them bore a small bowl, containing a large round clod of pounded millet and a little curdled milk, which they hospitably offered to us, although it constituted their whole supply of food for the day. We rewarded them with a few needles and by repeating the fat-há, or opening prayer of the Kurán.* It was, moreover, very fortunate that we had met them just here, as, if not directed by their information, we should scarcely have been able to cross without accident these numerous creeks, some of which were of an extremely boggy nature, and others obstructed by rocks, which caused us considerable delay; for the princi- . pal branch or góru of the rivulet was not less than about thirtyfive yards broad and about two and a half feet in depth, with a rocky bottom. Fine busósu, or tamarind-trees, and wide-spreading duwé, or fig-trees, adorned the delta, while a good deal of a kind of grain called “adelénka,” or “donhére," was cultivated in the fields.
Having at length left this difficult delta of small rivulets behind us, which may occasionally cause great trouble to a traveler, we ascended sandy downs, and obtained from thence a view over the whole valley, which here rather resembles a large well-timbered fäddama than a river, only a small open branch becoming visible, not obstructed by rocks. The district exhibited a good deal of cultivation, the fields of Ayóru extending for more than two miles, and the low shore of the creek was adorned farther on by a rich profusion of kenya, or tedúmunt. The richly-wooded islands afforded a very pleasant sight, one of them being enlivened by a great number of horses, which were left here to pasture, and the shore formed one uninterrupted line of tamarind-trees. But the navigation may be very difficult here, as from time to time the river, or at least as much as we saw of it, became greatly obstruct
* They informed us that Kulman was six hours' distance from here.