Page images

Chap. LXIV. is extensively cultivated in the neighbourhood, the natives, even at this season, appeared to possess a sufficient supply. The standard currency consists of “tári," that is to say, cotton strips two hands wide, of which, unfortunately, I did not possess the smallest quantity; it is only in purchasing sweet or sour milk that the inhabitants accept shells. Everything that is sold in the market is measured and inspected by an officer, who does not bear the same title by which he is known in the eastern countries of the Fúlbe, viz. “ lámido-lúmu,” but is here called “emíro-fóba.”

A good deal of entertainment was afforded me by the daily turning out and bringing in of the several divisions of the five herds of cattle which the place possessed. Three herds returned early in the morning from their pasture grounds, where they had been left during the night, in order to be milked; and the two remaining ones were then turned out, in order to return during the heat of the day. But notwithstanding the considerable number of cattle which the place possessed, the drought was so great that there was only a small supply of milk at the time.

At length, on the evening of the third day after their setting out, my two companions, whom I had sent to Somki, returned, and El Waláti would fain have made me believe that that chief had at first most obstinately refused to receive the presents, and had peremptorily demanded that I should make him, in addition, a present of one of the horses; but the fact


Char. LXIV.



was, that he had persisted in representing that those presents did not come from me, but had employed them in order to make his own peace with that powerful chief, and to conclude some bargain with him. After all this, he had the insolence to propose that I also should go to that chief, in order to surrender to him some more of my property as his own; but I could not prevent it, and my only object was necessarily to get over my difficult situation as well as possible..

Having, after the return of my friend from Thursday, his important embassy, still been obliged to August 25th. stay another day in this miserable place, and having had the misfortune to lose my best ox of burden, which El Waláti had sold to the Tawárek who came along with us, pretending that it had been stolen, I at length set out on my journey to Sarayámo. But just as we were about to start, a circumstance happened which might have proved fatal to my further proceedings; for, at the moment of departure, there arrived an Arab, a native of Tisít, who, besides having visited St. Louis, had made the pilgrimage to Mekka, and knew something about Europeans as well as about the Arabs of the East; and as I asked a great many questions about the ancient and celebrated town of Bíru, and the modern Waláta, he began to make some stricter inquiries concerning my native home, and the places from whence I had gathered my information ; for not having found any one on his journey towards the East who knew anything

[ocr errors]

about the seats of these Western Arabs, while the general name of Shingiti is given to all of them, he was not a little astonished to find that I knew so much about his countrymen. However, my whole appearance inspired him with such confidence, that he continued to take great interest in me. He had already, the previous evening, sent me a fat sheep as a present, and he now accompanied me for a while, mounted on a beautiful white mare; but, as his company prevented my laying down the route with accuracy, I persuaded him not to give himself any further trouble.

Having crossed a small watercourse, we soon reached a larger one, which formed a running stream, carrying the surplus of the shallow creek of Bambara towards a larger sheet, which, at the distance of a mile, we saw expand on our right. The surface of the country was undulating, with granite cropping out here and there, and with a good supply of stunted mimosa, besides the poisonous euphorbia ; but, about two miles beyond the open water, we descended into a more level tract, covered with nothing but dry and short herbage, and abundance of the obnoxious feathery bristle; but this is very favourable ground for the cattle, for they are not less fond of this bristle than their masters themselves are of the seed, called “úzak," which from the most ancient times * has constituted one of their chief articles of food. We

* See El Bekrí's “Description of Africa,” ed. de Slane, p. 181.

و عيشهم من اللحم و اللبن و من حب تنبت، الأرض من غير اعتمال

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

passed, also, the sites of several former Tawárek encampments.

Having then entered a district where more dúmbush appeared, we ascended a sandy ridge, from whence we beheld, in front of us, an extensive sheet of water, stretching out to a distance of several miles, its surface agitated by a strong breeze, and with tall reeds forming its border. It is called Nyéngay by the Fúlbe, and Isse-énga by the Tawárek, and is in connection with the branches of Bambara and Káñima, winding along from here by way of Gálaye to the latter place, and from thence by way of Délego to Sarayámo, and thus opening an uninterrupted navigable canal, at least during the highest state of the inundation ; but it is said to be dreaded by the boat. men of the frail native craft, who never dare to cross it in a storm. It seemed, in a south-westerly direction, from six to eight miles across, but towards the north-west it became contracted in such a manner, that at the narrowest place only two canoes can sail abreast; after which it turned away, and could not be further surveyed from this point.

Having followed the border of this fine and imposing sheet of water, where numbers of people were catching fish, for about a mile and a half, we ascended the sandy downs on our right, and soon reached the encampment of Mohammed, the chief of the Kél-e'-súk, who a few days previously had paid me a visit in Bámbara. Here I had to give away several more of my effects, but we were treated most hospitably, and even

sumptuously, and besides two enormous bowls full of rice and meat, swimming in an immense quantity of butter, a whole ox was slaughtered for us. The site of the encampment was very beautiful, and I walked for a long time about the downs, which were adorned with a rich profusion of trees of the acacia kind, and offered an interesting prospect over the lake; but the ensuing night was most miserably spent on account of the numerous swarms of mosquitoes which infested the encampment.

We were very early in motion, but a August 20th. heavy thunder-storin which gathered from the south-east delayed our departure, although, taking into account the slow rate at which I was here obliged to travel, it was a matter of total indifference whether we started early or late, as I was quite in the hands of my friend the Waláti, who stopped wherever he had any business to transact, and did not set out again until he had concluded his bargain. The rain clouds then taking a more northerly direction, we at length set out, pursuing our track over the hilly country, and while we lost sight of the

right another but smaller sheet of water called Gérru. The Nyéngay is said to be full of water all the year round; but the Gérru becomes dry in summer, when the inhabitants of Sarayámo repair hither in order to cultivate their rice-fields, the rice ripening with the rising waters, and being cut shortly before the river attains the highest state of inundation.


« PreviousContinue »