Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

son was carried in at the gate-Ee maffo fonio abada (he never told a lie; no, never.) When they had conveyed him to his hut, and laid him upon a mat, all the spectators joined in lamenting his fate, by screaming and howling in the most piteous manner.

After their grief had subsided a little, I was desired to examine the wound. I found that the ball had passed quite through his leg, having fractured both bones a little below the knee; the poor boy was faint from the loss of blood, and his situation withal so very precarious, that I could not console his relations with any great hopes of his recovery. However, to give him a possible chance, I observed to them that it was necessary to cut off his leg above the knee. This proposal made every one start with horror; they had never heard of such a method of cure, and would by no means give their consent to it; indeed they evidently considered me as a sort of cannibal for proposing so cruel and unheard of an operation, which in their opinion would be attended with more pain and danger than the wound itself. The patient was therefore committed to the care of some old Bushreens, who endeavoured to secure him a passage into paradise, by whispering in his ear some Arabic sentences, and desiring him to repeat them. After many unsuccessful attempts, the poor Heathen at last pronounced, la illah el allah Mahomet rasowl allahi, * and the disciples of the Prophet assured bis mother that her son had given sufficient evidence of his faith, and would be happy in a future state. He died the same evening. Feb. 17th. My guides informed me, that in order to avoid the Moorish banditti, it was necessary to travel in the night; we accordingly departed from Funingkedy in the afternoon, accompanied by about thirty people, carrying their effects with them into Ludamar, for fear of the war. We travelled with great silence and expedition until midnight, when we stopped in a sort of inclosure, near a small village; but the thermometer being so low as 68°, none of the Negroes could sleep on account of the cold.

* There is but one God, and Mahomet is his Prophet.

At daybreak on the 18th, we resumed our journey, and at eight o'clock passed Simbing, the frontier village of Ludamar, situated in a narrow pass between two rocky hills, and surrounded with a high wall. From this village Major Houghton (being deserted by his Negro servants, who refused to follow him into the Moorish country) wrote his last letter with a pencil to Dr. Laidley. This brave but unfortunate man, having surmounted many difficulties, had taken a northerly direction, and endeavoured to pass through the kingdom of Ludamar, where I afterwards learned the following particulars concerning bis melancholy fate. On his arrival at Jarra, he got acquainted with certain Moorish merchants who were travelling to Tisheet (a place near the salt pits in the great Desert, ten days journey to the northward) to purchase salt: and the Major, at the expense of a musquet and some tobacco, engaged them to convey him thither. It is impossible to form any other opinion on this determination, than that the Moors intentionally deceived him either with regard to the route that he wished to pursue, or the state of the intermediate country between Jarra and Tombuctoo. Their intention probably was to rob and leave him in the Desert. At the end of two days, he suspected their treachery, and insisted on returning to Jarra. Finding him persist in this determination, the Moors robbed him of every thing he possessed, and went off with their camels ; the poor Major being thus deserted, returned on foot to a watering place in possession of the Moors called Tarra. He had been some days without food, and the unfeeling Moors refusing to give him any, he sunk at last under his distresses. Whether he actually perished of hunger, or was murdered outright by the savage Mahomedans, is not certainly known; his body was dragged into the woods, and I was shewn at a distance, the spot where his remains were left to perish.

About four miles to the north of Simbing, we came to a small stream of water, where we observed a number of wild horses: they were all of one colour, and galloped away from us at an easy rate, frequently stopping and looking back. The Negroes hunt them for food, and their flesh is much esteemed.

About noon we arrived at Jarra, a large town situated at the bottom of some rocky bills. But before I proceed to describe the place itself, and relate the various occurrences which befel me there, it will not be improper to give my readers a brief recital of the origin of the war which induced me to take this route; an unfortunate determination, the immediate cause of all the misfortunes and calamities which afterward befel me. The recital which I propose to give in this place, will prevent interruptions hereafter.

This war, which desolated Kaarta soon after I had left that kingdom, and spread terror into many of the neighbouring states, arose in the following manner. A few bullocks belonging to a frontier village of Bambarra having been stolen by a party of Moors, were sold to the Dooty, or chief man of a town in Kaarta. The villagers claimed their cattle, and being refused satisfaction, complained of the Dooty, to their sovereign, Mansong, King of Bambarra, who probably beheld with an eye of jealousy the growing prosperity of Kaarta, and availed himself of this incident to declare hostilities against that kingdom.

With this view he sent a messenger and a party of horsemen to Daisy, King of Kaarta, to inform him that the King of Bambarra, with nine thousand men would visit Kemmoo in the course of the dry season ; and to desire that he (Daisy) would direct his slaves to sweep the houses, and have every thing ready for their accommodation. The messenger concluded this insulting notification by presenting the king with a pair of iron sandals; at the same time adding, that “ until such time as Daisy had worn out these sandals in his flight, he should never be secure from the arrows of Bambarra."

Daisy, having consulted with his chief men about the best means of repelling so formidable an enemy, returned an answer of defiance, and made a Bushreen write in Arabic, upon a piece of thin board, a sort of proclamation, which was suspended to a tree in the public square; and a number of aged men were sent to different places to explain it to the common people. This proclamation called upon all the friends of Daisy to join him immediately ; but to such as had no arms, or were afraid to enter into the war, permission was given to retire into any of the neighbouring kingdoms; and it was added, that provided they observed a strict neutrality, they should always be welcome to return to their former habitations; if, however, they took any active part against Kaarta, they had then“ broken the key of their huts, and could never afterwards enter the door.” Such was the expression.

This proclamation was very generally applauded: but many of the Kaartans, and amongst others the powerful tribes of Jower and Kakaroo, availing themselves of the indulgent clause, retired from Daisy's dominions, and took refuge in Ludamar and Kasson. By means of these desertions, Daisy's army was not so numerous as might have been expected; and when I was at Kemmoo, the whole number of effective men, according to report, did not exceed four thousand; but they were men of spirit and enterprise, and could be depended on.

On the 22d of February (four days after my arrival at Jarra), Mansong, with his army, advanced towards Kemmoo: and Daisy, without hazarding a battle, retired to Joko, a town to the north-west of Kemmoo, where he remained three days, and then took refuge in a strong town called Gedingooma, situated in the hilly country, and surrounded with high walls of stone. When Daisy departed from Joko, his sons refused to follow him, alleging that“ the singing-men would publish their disgrace, as soon as it should be known that Daisy and his family had fled from Joko without firing a gun.” They were therefore left behind with a number of horsemen to defend Joko; but, after many skirmishes, they were totally defeated, and one of Daisy's sons taken prisoner; the remainder fled to Gedingooma, which Daisy had stored with provisions, and where he determined to make his final stand.

Mansong, finding that Daisy was determined to avoid a pitched battle, placed a strong force at Joko to watch his

« ZurückWeiter »