Page images

Caap. LIII.



person another man, as a sort of broker, and who was to serve as a mediator between me and the natives; this was the Méjebrí ‘Alí el A'geren, a native of Jálo, the small commercial place near Aújila, which has recently been visited and described by the Abbé Hamilton. He had travelled for many years in Negroland, and had traversed in various directions the region inclosed between Sókotó, Kanó, Baúchi, Záriya, and Gónja. But for the present, on my outset from Bórnu, I had not made any fixed arrangements with this man ; but in the event of his accompanying me beyond Sókotó, he was to have two horses and a monthly salary of nine dollars, beside being permitted to trade on his own account. Such an arrangement, although rather expensive to me considering the means at my disposal, was of very great importance if the man did his duty, he being able, in his almost independent situation, to render me extraordinary assistance in overcoming many difficulties; but, as an Arab, I only put full confidence in him as long as circumstances were propitious, while his wavering character as soon as dangers began to surround me did not put me in any way out of countenance.

These people, besides an Arab, a so-called sherif, from Fás, who was going as far as Zinder, and who had likewise attached himself to my small party, composed the band with which I cheerfully set out on my journey towards the west, on the 25th of No. vember, being accompanied out of the town by the

[ocr errors]

Háj Edrís whom I have had frequent occasion to mention. In order to get everything in readiness, and to be sure of having neglected no precaution to secure full success to my enterprise, I followed my old principle, and pitched my tent for the first day only a couple of miles distant from the gate, near the second hamlet of Kalíluwá, in the scanty shade of a baúre, when I felt unbounded delight in finding myself once more in the open country, after a residence of a couple of months in the town, where I had but little bodily exercise. Indulging in the most pleasing anticipations as to the success of the enterprise upon which I was then embarking, I stretched myself out at full length on my noble lion-skin, which formed my general couch during the day, and which was delightfully cool.

Friday, This was one of the coldest, or perhaps November 26th. the very coldest night which I experienced in the whole of my journeys since entering the fertile plains of Negroland, the thermometer in the morning, a little before sunrise, showing only 9° Fahr. above the freezing point. The interior of Africa, so far removed from the influence of the sea (which is warmer in winter than the terra firma), forms, with regard to the cold season, an insulated cool space in the tropical regions, in opposition to the warm climate of the West Indies and the coasts and islands of the Pacific and Indian oceans. We were all greatly affected by the cold. But it did us a great deal of good, invigorating our frames after the enervating


Chap. LIII.



influence of the climate of Kúkawa. We did not set out, however, before the sun had begun to impart to the atmosphere a more genial character, when we proceeded on our journey westward. The country which I traversed, passing by the frequented well of Beshér, although already known to me from previous travels, now presented a very different aspect from what it had done on my first journey from Kanó to Kúkawa,—those bleak and dreary hollows of black argillaceous soil being now changed into the richest corn-fields, and waving with a luxuriant crop of masákuwá, while the fields of small millet (Pennisetum) stood in stubble.

We encamped. near tbe well Súwa-búwa, or, as it was called by others, Kabubiya, on the gentle slope of the rising ground towards the north, from whence the busy scene round the well, of cattle, asses, goats, and sheep being watered in regular succession, presented an interesting and animated spectacle, more especially, coming after and contrasted with the dull life of the capital. The well measured fifteen fathoms in depth ; and the inhabitants were so on the alert for gain that they thought it right to sell us the precious element for watering our camels. My whole party were in the best spirits, cheerful and full of expectation of the novelties, both in human life and nature, that were to be disclosed in the unknown regions in the far west. In order to protect ourselves from the cold, which had so much affected us the preceding night, we set fire to the whole of a large decayed tree, which, with

[ocr errors]

great exertion, we dragged from some distance close to our tent, and thus enjoyed a very moderate degree of temperature in our open encampment.

Saturday, I now entered Koyam, with its stragNovember 27th. gling villages, its well-cultivated fields, and its extensive forests of middle-sized mimosas, which afford food to the numerous herds of camels constituting the wealth of this African tribe, who in former times, before the Bórnu dynasty was driven away from its ancient capital Njímiye by the rival family of the Bulála *, led a nomadic life on the pasture-grounds of Kánem. Having thus traversed the district called W6domá, we encamped about noon, at a short distance from a well in the midst of the forest, belonging to a district called Gágadá. The well was twenty-five fathoms deep, and was frequented during the night by numerous herds of cattle from different parts of the neighbourhood. .

While making the round in the night in order to see whether my people were on the look-out, as a great part of the security of a traveller in these regions depends on the vigilance exercised by night, I succeeded in carrying away secretly the arms from all my people, even from the warlike Ferjáni Arab, which caused great amusement and hubbub when they awoke in the morning, and enabled me to teach them a useful lesson of being more careful for the future.

* See Vol. II. p. 276.

Chap. LIII.



Having taken an early breakfast- an

November 28th. arrangement which in this cold weather, when the appetite even of the European traveller in these regions is greatly sharpened, we found very acceptable—we pursued our journey, passing through the district of Garánda, with deep sandy soil, and rich in corn, cattle, and camels. A great proportion of the population consisted of Shúwa, or native Arabs, who had immigrated from the East. As we proceeded on our march, the trees gradually assumed a richer character, plainly indicating that we were approaching a inore favoured district. There was the ngilísi, or haméd, a tree very common over the whole eastern part of Negroland, with its small leaves bursting forth from its branches ; the karage, or gáwo, now appearing as a small tree of scanty growth, further on spreading out with a large and luxuriant crown not ceding to the árdéb or tamarind-tree; and the kórna, which, extending over the whole of these immense regions, is remarkable for bearing almost everywhere the same name.* The underwood was formed by the kálgo and gónda bush, which latter, however, did not seem to bear here that delicious fruit which had so frequently served to refresh my failing energies during my marches through other districts; and cold as had been the night, the sun even now was very powerful during the mid-day hours, there being a difference of 40°.


* See Vol. III. p. 348, note.

« PreviousContinue »