Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

I passed on my road from Tintéllust to A'gades, * and that they had seen me in A'sben, and knew all about my affairs. They were settled here as tenants.

Wednesday, March 23d. I had just mounted my horse, and my camels had gone in advance, when a messenger arrived, who had been sent after me from Kátsena, bringing a letter from Mr. Gagliuffi, her majesty's agent in Múrzuk, a mere duplicate of a letter already received, with reference to the sending of the box (which, however, did not reach me), but not a single line from Europe. We had to retrace our road all the way to Kúlkadá, and from thence, after a march of about six miles through a dense forest, reached the walled town of Kúrayé, and, not being aware that the country on the other side was more open and offered a far better camping-ground, pitched our tent on that side whence we had come, not far from the market-place, consisting of several rows of stalls or sheds. A market was held in the afternoon, and we bought grain and onions, but looked in vain for the favorite fruit of the tamarind-tree, to which we were greatly indebted for the preservation of our health.

The town was of considerable size, and contained from 6000 to 7000 inhabitants, but no clay buildings. The wall was in excellent repair, and well provided with loop-holes for the bowmen, and it was even strengthened by a second wall, of lesser height, on the outside. The town has three gates. The wells were three fathoms in depth.

Thursday, March 24th. The country on the other side of the town of Kúrayé seemed to surpass in beauty the district which we had left behind us; and the bentang-tree, the sacred tree of the former pagan inhabitants, rose here to its full majestic growth, while, besides the dorówa and the butter-tree, the ngábbore (or sycamore) and the dúnnia appeared in abundance. The cultivation was here limited to sorghum or Indian millet. After a while the ground became rather undulating, and we had to cross several small water-courses, at present dry, while boulders of granite protruded here and there. The path was enlivened by the several troops of horsemen which constituted our expeditionary corps. There was first the governor of Kátsena himself, with a body of about two hundred horse; then there was an auxiliary squadron of about fifty horse, sent by Démbo, the governor of Kazáure; and lastly Káura, the serkí-n-yaki, or, commander-in-chief of Kátsena, with a body of about thirty-five well-mounted troopers. This officer, at the present time, is the most warlike man in the province of Kátsena, and had greatly contributed to the overthrow and disgrace of Sadíku, the former governor, in the hope that the government of the province might fall to his share; but he had been sadly disappointed in his expectations. As for the ghaladíma, he had about twenty mounted companions, the most warlike among whom was a younger brother of his, of the name of 'Omar, or Ghomáro, who was descended from a Púllo mother, and, on account of his noble birth, had better claims to the office of ghaladíma than his brother. Most of these troopers were very fantastically dressed, in the Hausa fashion, and in a similar manner to those I have described on a former occasion. Some of the horses were fine, strong animals, although in height they are surpassed by the Bórnu horses.

* See vol. i., p. 313.

We watered our cattle in a kúrremi or dry water-course, which contained a number of wells from one fathom to a fathom and a half in depth, and was beautifully skirted with deléb palms, while a granite mound on its eastern shore rose to an altitude of from eighty to a hundred feet. I ascended it, but did not obtain a distant view. Near this water-course the cultivation was a little in. terrupted; but farther on the country became again well cultivated, broken here and there by some underwood, while the monk. ey-bread-tree, the dúm palm, great numbers of a species of acacia called “árred," and the “merké" dotted the fields. The latter tree, which I have mentioned on a former occasion, bears a fruit which, when mixed with the common native grain, is said to preserve horses from worms.

Thus we reached the town of Kúrrefi, or Kúlfi, and were not a little puzzled by the very considerable outworks, consisting of moats, which the inhabitants had thrown up in front of their town, besides the three-fold wall, and the double moat which surrounded the latter, as shown in the opposite wood-cut.

The town was said to have been founded only three years before, being peopled from the remains of other places which were destroyed by the enemy. It may contain from 8000 to 9000 inhabitants, but it had recently suffered from a conflagration. The wall was full of loop-holes, and it had a gate on each side except the eastern one.

Having made our way with great difficulty through the moats, instead of taking up our quarters inside the wall, to the great

AN AGREEABLE INCIDENT.

93

astonishment of the people we pitched our tent outside, at some distance from the western gate. Such was the confidence which we placed in our fire-arms. A rocky eminence, such as are met with also inside the town, started up at some little distance from our camping-ground; and a majestic dorowa, the largest tree of this species which I saw on my journey, shaded the place to a considerable extent, but attracted a number of people, who disturbed my privacy. The ghaladíma had taken a northerly road, to the town of Tsaúrí, which he had recently founded, and did not arrive till the afternoon.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

1. Outer entrance, leading into a large square surrounded with a double moat, and containing three huts for the guards.

2. Second entrance, leading from this outwork through the outer moat which surrounds the town. 3. Gate leading into the projecting angle of the wall, from which a second gate leads into the town. 4. Granite mounds inside the town. 6. Outer moats of the wall. 6. Situation of my tent. 7. Granite mount outside the town.

8. Open pasture-grounds.

Friday, March 25th. On mounting my horse in the morning to pursue my march, a Púllo came up to me and handed me a letter, which he begged me to take to a relative of his in Timbúktu. This showed his full confidence in my success, and it did not fail to inspire me with the same feeling. The inhabitants of the town marched out their bands of musicians, who played a farewell to us; and the several troops of horsemen, in their picturesque attire, thronged along the path winding between the granite mounds which broke the level on all sides. Groups of deléb and dúm palms towered, with their fan-shaped foliage, over the whole scenery.

We had now entered the more unsafe border country between the Mohammedans and pagans while changing our direction from south to .west, and the cultivation was less extensive, although even here a little cotton was to be seen. After a march of about eight miles we traversed the site of a deserted town called Takabáwa, inclosed between rocky cliffs on all sides, and at present changed into a large cotton-ground, the inhabitants having sought refuge in the more rocky district toward the south. But, although the destructive influence which war had exercised upon this province was plainly manifested by the site of another town which we passed soon afterward, yet the country was not quite deserted, and even small herds of cattle were observed farther on. Meanwhile the dúm palm became entirely predominant, and rocky cliffs and eminences continued to break the surface; but beyond a rocky ridge, which, dotted with an abundance of monkey-bread-trees, crossed our path, the country became more level and open, enlivened by herds, and exhibiting an uninterrupted tract of cultivation.

Thus we reached the walls of the considerable town of Zékka, and here again we had to make our way with difficulty through the moats which started off from the walls as a sort of outwork, when we pitched our tent on the west side, in the shade of two large dorówa-trees. Even here I did not choose to take up my. quarters inside the town, which was full of people. Besides those detachments which had come along with us, there arrived here also an auxiliary troop of 110 horse from Záriya, together with the governor of U'mmadaú with twenty horsemen. The Kanawa, or people of Kanó, who were proceeding to Sókoto, had continued their march straight to U'mmadaú, in order to take up their quarters in that place.

Besides numbers of sick people from the town, who came to solicit my medical assistance, I received also a visit in the evening from one of the five governors of the place, who bears the title of serkí-n-Féllani. He came to ask whether I had not for sale another pair of pocket pistols, such as I had given to the governor of Kátsena; for my eccentric friend played with the small arms I had made him a present of all the day long, to the great alarm of every body, so that the rumor of my possessing such articles had spread over the whole of this part of Sudán, and even Kaúra had pestered me greatly on this account.

In the town of Zékka resides also the former governor of the wealthy town or district of Rúma, mentioned repeatedly by Captain Clapperton, but destroyed by the Góberáwa after the period of his travels; that officer still bears the title of serkí-n-Rúma. There was a pond of dirty water near our encampment, but good drinkable water was only to be obtained from a water-course at a considerable distance, which, although dry at present, afforded wells at very little depth in its gravelly bottom.

TREACHERY.-NIGHT MARCH.

95

Saturday, March 26th. We remained here the whole forenoon, as we had now the most difficult part of our journey before us; but, instead of having leisure to prepare myself for an unusual amount of exertion, all my spare time was taken up by a disagreeable business, the governor of Kátsena having succeeded in seducing from my service, in the most disgraceful manner, the Ferjáni Arab, whom I had hired for the whole journey to Timbuktu and back, and whom I could ill afford to lose. This lad, who had accompanied Ibrahím Bashá's expedition to Syria, and an expedition to Kordofán, and who had afterward resided with the Welád Slimán for some time in Kánem, might have been of great use to me in case of emergency. But, as it was, I could only be grateful to Providence for ridding me of this faithless rogue at so cheap a rate; and the insidious governor at least had no reason to boast of his conduct, for the Arab, as soon as he found himself well mounted and dressed in a bernús by his new master, took to his heels, and, following the track with which he had become acquainted in my company, succeeded in reaching Zínder, and from thence returned to his native country.

We here separated from most of our companions, the governor of Katsena, as well as the people from Kanó and Záriya, who were carrying tribute to the Sultan of Sókoto, remaining behind, and only an escort or "rékkia” of fifty horsemen continuing in our company. The hostile army of the Góberáwa being in this neighborhood, the danger of the road farther on was very considerable; and the Kanáwa and Zozáwa, or Zegézegé, of whom the latter carried 2,000,000 shells, 500 tobes, and 30 horses, as tribute, were too much afraid of their property to accompany us. There had also arrived a troop of about 100 fataki with asses laden entirely with the famous dodówa cakes, but they also remained behind.

The governor himself, however, escorted us, for a mile or two, to a large korámma called Mejídi, which no doubt forms one of the branches of the korámma of Búnka, and contains several wells, where we watered our horses and filled our water-skins for a night's march. Fine cotton-grounds and fields of onions fringed the border of the valley.

As soon as we left this winding water-course we entered a dense forest, only occasionally broken by open spots covered with reed grass, and we pursued our march without interruption the whole night, with the exception of a short halt just in the dusk of the evening. I had taken the lead from the beginning; and the gha

« PreviousContinue »