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Chap. LIII.

DARING THEFT.

37

on the north side, near a fine tamarind tree, where millet was grown to a great extent. The south and west sides were surrounded by an extensive swamp or swampy watercourse fed by the komádugu, and, with its dense forest, affording to the inhabitants a safe retreat in case of an attack from their enemies. All the towns of the Bedde are situated in similar positions; and hence the precarious. allegiance of the people (who indulge in rapacious habits) to the ruler of Bórnu. The inhabitants of Geshiya *, indeed, have very thievish propensities; and as we had neglected to fire a few shots in the evening, a couple of daring men succeeded, during the night, in carrying away the woollen blanket in which my companion the Méjebrí merchant 'Alí el A'geren was sleeping at the side of his horse. Although he was a man of hardihood and experience, he was dragged or carried along to a considerable distance, until he was forced to let go his blanket; and, threatening him with their spear in case he should cry out, they managed this affair so cleverly and with such dispatch, that they were off in the dark before we were up to pursue them. It was a pity that these daring rascals escaped with their spoil ; but in order to prevent any further depredations of this kind, we fired several shots, and, with a large accordion, upon which I played the rest of the night, I frightened the people to such a degree, that they thought every moment we were about to ransack the town.

* The billama, or mayor, of this town, who has subjected himself to the authority of Bórnu, bears the title “Mai 'Omár Béddema.” Fitíti, the residence of the chief Babyshe, or Babúdji, and the chief town of Bedde, lies a short day's march from here S.S.W. I have more materials of itineraries traversing this region ; but they are too indistinct with regard to direction to be used for a topographical sketch of the country.

Thursday, Keeping along the north-eastern border of December 9th. the swamp, through a fine country where the tamarind and monkey-bread tree were often interlaced, as I have repeatedly observed to be the case with these species of trees, we reached, after a march of about three miles, the town of Gesma, which is girt and

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defended by the swamp on the south and east sides, the wall being distinguished by the irregularity of its pinnacles, if pinnacles they may be called, as represented in the accompanying woodcut. The inhabi

Chap. LIII. WALL OF GESMA.-SILK-COTTON TREE. 39

tants, clad in nothing but a leather apron, were busy carrying clay from the adjacent swamp, in order to repair the wall, which, however, on the west side, was in excellent condition.

Close to this town I observed the first rími, or silkcotton tree, which in Bórnu Proper is entirely wanting; and as we proceeded through the fine open country, numerous species of trees which are peculiar to Hausa became visible, and seened to greet me as old acquaintances. I was heartily glad that I had left the monotonous plains of Bórnu once more behind me, and had reached the more favoured and diversified districts of this fine country. Small channels intersected the country in every direction; and immense fishing-baskets were lying in some of them, apparently in order to catch the fish which, during the period of the inundation, are carried down by the river. But the great humidity of this district made it swarm with ants, whose immense and thickly-scattered hills, together with the dúm bush, filled out the intermediate spaces between the larger specimens of the vegetable kingdom.

Having then crossed a tract of denser forest, we entered upon deep sandy soil, where the kúka became the sole tree, excluding almost every other kind, with the exception of a few tamarinds, for whose company, as I have observed, the monkey-bread tree seems to have a decided predilection.

Thus we reached Donári, formerly a considerable place of the Manga, and surrounded with a low

rampart of earth, but at present greatly reduced, the inhabited quarter occupying only a very small proportion of the area thus inclosed, But a good many cattle were to be seen, and, lying just in the shade of the majestic monkey-bread trees which mark the place, afforded a cheerful sight. This was the residence of the Bórnu officer A'dama, who had accompanied me from Borzári, and who the previous day had gone on in advance to pass the night here. But having once made it a rule to encamp in the open country, I preferred the large though leafless trunk of a kúka at a short distance from the eastern gate, to a cool shed inside the town; and the heat was by no means oppressive, a cool wind blowing the whole day. We exchanged the domain of the mon

December 10th. key-bread tree for that of the dúm palm, by giving to our course a north-westerly direction towards Zurríkulo, the queen of the region of dúm palms and the residence of the hospitable Kashélla Said *, passing at some distance on our way a comfortable and populous little place, surrounded with a stockade, and bearing the attractive name of Kechidúniya, “the sweetness of the world,” where a little market was held, to which people were flocking from all sides, male and female, with sour milk, groundnuts, grain, earthen pots, young cattle, and sheep.

Se

* His province comprises the following villages : - Chando, Gíro, Ghasrmarí, Kellerí, Gabchári, Bilaljawa, Nkibúda, Lawandi, Dalarí, Kerí zemán, Kábi, Gréma Dalari.

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In Zurríkulo I fell into my former route, which I had followed in the opposite direction in March 1851, and, crossing the northern branch of the komádugu, which at present was two feet and a half deep, and following almost the same road, encamped the next day in Shechéri, the first village of the district of Búndi.

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