« PreviousContinue »
CAAP. LIV. FRESH-WATER LAKE AND NATRON LAKE. 73
colour, and presenting quite a smooth surface, while that of the other resembled the dark-green colour of the sea, and, agitated by the strong gale, broke splashing and foaming on the shore in mighty billows, so that my two companions, the Shúwa lad and the Hausa boy, whom I had taken with me on this excursion, were quite in ecstasy, having never before witnessed such a spectacle. It would have been a fine spot for a water-party. The surrounding landscape, with Mount Shedika in the east, was extremely inviting, although the weather was not very clear and had been exceedingly foggy in the morning. But there was neither boat nor canoe, although the lake is of considerable depth and is said always to preserve about the same level; for, according to the superstition of the inhabitants, its waters are inha. bited by demons, and no one would dare to expose himself to their pranks, either by swimming or in a boat.
The brackish quality of the water arises entirely from the nature of the soil. In the centre it seems to be decidedly of such a quality ; but I found that near the border, which is greatly indented, the nature of the water in the different creeks was very varying. In one it was fresh, while in a neighbouring one it was not at all drinkable ; but nevertheless even here there were sometimes wells of the sweetest water quite close to the border. Swarms of water fowl of the species called “gármaka" by the Háusa people, and "gubóri” by the Kanúri, together with the black rejíjia and the small sanderling, enlivened the water's edge, where it presented a sandy beach.
A little further on, the melés and kumba were succeeded by the tall bulrush called “bús," while beyond the north-easterly border of the lake an isolated date palm adorned the scenery, which in other respects entirely resembled the shores of the sea, a rich profusion of sea weed being carried to the bank by the billows. Then succeeded a cotton plantation, which evidently was indebted for its existence to a small brook formed by another source of fresh water which joins the lake from this side. From the end of this plantation, where the natron lake attains its greatest breadth of about a mile and a half, I kept along the bank in a south-westerly direction, till I again reached the narrow junction between the two lakes. Here the shore became very difficult to traverse, on account of an outlying branch of the plantation closely bordering the lake, and I had again to ascend the downs from whence I had enjoyed the view of this beautiful panorama on the previous day. I thus re-entered the principal village from the north-east side ; and while keeping along the upper road, which intersects the market-place, I saw with delight that the town is bounded on the north side also by a narrow but very rich vale, meandering along and clad with a profusion of vegetation ; and I here observed another spring, which broke forth with almost as powerful a stream as that near the southern
quarter, and was enlivened by a number of women busily employed in fetching their supply of water.
The market-place is formed of about thirty sheds or stalls ; and there is a good deal of weaving to be observed in the place, its whole appearance exhibiting signs of industry. I could not, however, obtain a sheep, or even as much as a fowl, so that our evening's repast was rather poor; and a very cold easterly wind blowing direct into the door of my tent, which I had opened towards Mount Shedíka in order to enjoy the pleasant prospect of the lakes and the plantation, rendered it still more cheerless. The whole of the inhabitants belong to the Hausa race; and the governor himself is of that nation.* He is in a certain degree dependent on the governor of Zínder, and not directly on the sheikh ; and he was treated in the most degrading manner by my trooper, although the latter was a mere attendant of Adama the governor of Donári.
I made an interesting day's march to Mírriya, another locality of the province December 24th, Demágherim, greatly favoured by nature. The first part of our road was rather hilly, or even mountainous, a promontory of considerable elevation jutting out into the more open country from S.E., and forming in the whole district a well-marked boundary. The village Hándara, which lies at the foot of a higher
* The territory under his command comprises, besides Badamúni, four villages, all situated towards the north, their names being as follows:- Jishwa, Koikám, Zermó, and Jigaw.