Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 cottonground, the inhabitants having sought refuge in the more rocky district towards 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 afterwards, yet the country was not quite deserted, and even small herds of cattle were observed further 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 Zélka, 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 Kanáwa, or people of Kanó, who were proceeding to Sókoto, had continued their march

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

nors

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 everybody, so that the rumour 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 serki-n. Rúma. There was a pond of dirty water near our encampment; but good drinkable water was only to be obtained from a watercourse at a considerable distance, which, although dry at present, afforded wells at very little depth in its gravelly bottom.

We remained here the whole forenoon, Saturday, as we had now the most difficult part of March 26th. 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

O

rea

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 Timbúktu and back, and whom I could ill afford to lose. This lad, who had accompanied Ibrahim Bashá's expedition to Syria and an expedition to Kordofán, and who had afterwards 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 Zinder, and from thence returned to his native country.

We here separated from most of our companions, -the governor of Kátsena, as well as the people froin Kanó and Záriya, who were carrying tribute to the sultan of Sokoto, remaining behind, and only an escort or “rékkia” of fifty horsemen continuing in our company. The hostile army of the Góberáwa being in this neighbourhood, the danger of the road further 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

wei

Chap. LVI.

A DANGEROUS NIGHT'S MARCH.

117

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 watercourse, 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 ghaladíma, who was fully sensible of the great advantage of my firearms, sent messenger after messenger to me till he brought me to a stand, and thus managed to get all his slaves and camels in advance, so that I could only proceed very slowly. After a march of little more than twelve miles from the korámma, we entered a fertile and picturesque sort of vale, inclosed towards the north and south by rocky cliffs, and intersected by a narrow strip of succulent herbage, where water is apparently to be found at a little depth. This is the site of the town of Moniya, which had likewise been destroyed by the Góberáwa three years previously. Their army had even encamped here the previous day; and when our companions found the traces of their footsteps, which indicated that they had taken an easterly direction, all the people were seized with fright, and the intention which had been entertained, of resting here for a few hours of the night, was given up, and with an advanced guard of twenty horse, and a guard of from fifty to sixty, we kept cautiously and anxiously on.

About midnight we again entered dense forest, consisting chiefly of underwood. We marched the whole night, and emerged in the morning into open cultivated country. We then passed several small hamlets, and, crossing first a small and further on a larger watercourse, reached, a little before nine o'clock, the considerable place Búnka, surrounded by a clay wall about twelve feet in height, and by a half natural half artificial stockade of dense forest. In this town, the governor of which is directly dependent upon the ghaladíma of Sokoto, my protector had taken quarters; but, true to my old principle, I here also preferred encamping outside, and, turning round the town, on the south side, along a very winding and narrow passage through dense prickly underwood, I pitched my tent on the west side, in the midst of an open suburb consisting of several straggling groups of huts.

The inhabitants of the village proved to be industrious and sociable, and, soon after we had encamped, brought me several articles for sale, such as good strong ropes, of which we were greatly in want. In general a traveller cannot procure good ropes in these

sev

« PreviousContinue »