Page images

tormented our animals, and which is very rarely met with in the eastern part of Negroland. We encamped, after a march of about sixteen miles, in the midst of the forest, near the site of the former encampment of a Tawárek horde, where kréb was springing up in the most luxuriant abundance, af. fording the richest pasture to the horses, and a cheerful sight to ourselves; but we had here to sustain a very heavy rain, which lasted for several hours. Fortunately, it was not accompanied by much wind, so that my frail tent offered sufficient resistance; but the encampment was far from comfortable.

The rain had at length ceased; but we had scarcely resigned ourselves to sleep, when a troop of pilgrims, passing by at this unusual hour of the night, roused us at once. Fortunately, the ground which we had to traverse further on was of a rocky nature, else it would have been almost impossible to proceed after the last night's rain; but, after a march of about fourteen miles, we came to a very considerable sheet of water, which we crossed with extreme difficulty, and encamped close beyond in a state of entire exhaustion. The channel of the torrent itself, which had spread its inundation to a great distance, was so considerable, being at the deepest spot five feet and a half, that it almost swamped me on my horse, besides wetting all my luggage. The place where we had encamped was a narrow open spot in the forest; but the ground was full of ants, and we were also greatly troubled by innumerable swarms of small flies which




penetrated into all our clothes. Fortunately we had no rain, so that I was able to stay outside, as the heat in the tent was scarcely endurable. This day, also, we observed numerous footprints of elephants.

We rose with the hope that we might Monday, arrive at an early hour in Aribínda, or rather July 25th. the chief place of that district, although we were aware that we should have to cross another considerable sheet of water; but we were sadly disappointed, for, after a march of about three miles through a more rugged district with black and red granite and a great quantity of gneiss, we reached the wide in. undations of a river called Búggoma by my companions, which we endeavoured in vain to cross. Seeing that we should not succeed here, we struck off into the forest in a south-westerly direction, in order to ford it higher up, when suddenly we fell in with two men who were pasturing a couple of asses; but, although we made signs to them that we were their friends, they would not hear us, and, beating their shields, cried out lustily to their companions, who all on a sudden rushed out in every direction from behind the bushes, and in a moment surrounded us.

There were from 150 to 200 people, all tall slender men, half-naked, with nothing but a poor ragged cloth round their loins, and another rag still poorer round their heads, and each armed with a couple of spears and a ragged shield, which they brandished over their heads with warlike gesticulations. The affair seemed rather serious, and here it was fortunate that





I had such a clever companion as the Waláti with me; for, while I was pointing my gun, he begged me to ride quietly in advance straight upon those people, and at the same time cried out to them that I was a sheríf, and a friend of the sheikh El Bakáy, to whom I was carrying a number of books from the east. All of a sudden they dropped their spears and thronged round me, requesting me to give them my blessing; and the circumstances under which I was placed obliged me to comply with this slight request, although it was by no means a pleasant matter to lay my hands on all these dirty heads.

On the whole it was very fortunate that we met with these people; for without their aid and information we should scarcely have been able to cross the water which intersected our track, at least without a most serious loss to our luggage. People in Europe have no idea what it is to travel during the rainy season in these regions; else they would not wonder that poor Dr. Vogel, in going at that time of the year from Yákoba to Záriya, lost most of his instruments, and all his collections, in crossing the rivers.

They were poor people from Gåó, or Gógó, and the neighbourhood, a mixture, as I thought at the time, of Songhay and Tawárek, but speaking only the language of the former ; but I found afterwards that they belonged to the tribe of the Gabéro, of whom I shall speak in the following volume. They had visited the market of Aribínda, and were at present on their way to Dóre and Libtáko, carrying as mer.





chandise, on a couple of asses and bull oxen, nothing but cotton strips, or “tári,” rice, and a few mats, of which latter article they brought me three as a present. Having received my blessing, and the tumult having quieted down, they conducted us to a place where they declared the water to be fordable. But the boggy ground inspired us with but little confidence; and it really caused us an immense deal of trouble. My people were obliged to carry all the luggage, even the heaviest, across the swamp, which was half a mile in breadth, the camels being scarcely able to make their way, even unloaded; and I myself had the misfortune to fall under iny horse, in the midst of the swamp, almost as badly as had happened to me on a foriner occasion, on my journey to Kánem. I was firinly convinced that my horse would not be able to carry me over, and that it would be the safest way to cross the bog on foot; but I allowed myself to be swayed by the Waláti, who thought that my dignity, in presence of those native travellers, absolutely required me to remain on horseback. It was on this occasion that all my journals got wet through in a most miserable way, and we had the greatest difficulty in extricating my horse from the bog, in which it was lying for some minutes as if dead.

It was almost three o'clock in the afternoon when we again set out from the opposite side of the swamp; but we had first to return, along the water, in a north-easterly direction, in order to regain the direct


[ocr errors]

track. We then proceeded at an expeditious rate, in order to arrive at Aribínda before nightfall. A short distance before we reached our destination, the whole character of the country changed, granite mounds rising on our right and left to considerable altitude, and leaving only a narrow passage through which to proceed,—the beautifully sweeping slope of the eminence on our right being pleasantly adorned with bushes, and enlivened by goats.

Having left another village at the foot of the granite range, we took up our quarters in the lamórde or residence of the chief of Aribínda, which is likewise situated at the foot of the granitic ridge, part of the huts being built on the slope, and part in the plain,the latter forming a group by itself, which, with its projecting and receding walls, formed a sort of de


fence, as represented in the accompanying woodcut. Here we obtained quarters without delay, two of my

« PreviousContinue »