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to them, and they endeavoured to heighten it by every means in their power. This studied and degrading insolence, to which I was constantly exposed, was one of the bitterest ingredients in the cup of captivity; and often made life itself a burthen to me. In those distressing moments I have frequently envied the situation of the slave, who amidst all his calamities could still possess the enjoyment of his own thoughts; a happiness to which I had, for some time, been a stranger. Wearied out with such continual insults, and perhaps a little peevish from the fever, I trembled lest my passion might unawares overleap the bounds of prudence, and spur me to some sudden act of resentment, when death must be the inevitable consequence. In this perplexity, I left my hut, and walked to some shady trees at a little distance from the camp, where I lay down. But even here, persecution followed me; and solitude was thought too great an indulgence for a distressed Christian. Ali's son, with a number of horsemen, came galloping to the place, and ordered me to rise and follow them. I begged they would allow me to remain where I was, if it was only for a few hours; but they paid little attention to what I said; and after a few threatening words, one of them pulled out a pistol from a leather bag, that was fastened to the pummel of his saddle, and presenting it towards me, snapped it twice. Ile did this with so much indifference, that I really doubted whether the pistol was loaded ; he cocked it a third time, and was striking the fiint with a piece of steel, when I begged them to desist, and returned with them to the camp. When we entered Ali's tent, we found him much out of humour. He called for the Noor's pistol, and amused himself for some time with opening
and shutting the pan; at length, taking up his powder horn, he fresh primed it; and turning round to me with a menacing look, said something in Arabic, wbich I did not understand. I desired my boy, who was sitting before the tent, to inquire what offence I had committed ; when I was informed that having gone out of the camp without Ali's permission, they suspected that I had some design of making my escape; and that, in future, if I was seen without the skirts of the
camp, orders had been given that I should be shot by the first person that observed me.
In the afternoon the horizon, to the eastward, was thick and hazy, and the Moors prognosticated a sand wind; which accordingly commenced on the morning following, and lasted, with slight intermissions, for two days. The force of the wind was not in itself very great; it was what a seaman would have denominated a stiff breeze ; but the quantity of sand and dust carried before it, was such as to darken the whole atmosphere. It swept along from east to west, in a thick and constant stream, and the air was at times so dark and full of sand, that it was difficult to discern the neighbouring tents. As the Moors always dress their victuals in the open air, this sand fell in great plenty amongst the kouskous; it readily adhered to the skin, when moistened by perspiration, and formed a cheap and universal hair powder. The Moors wrap a cloth round their face to prevent them from inhaling the sand, and always turn their backs to the wind when they look up, to prevent the sand falling into
About this time, all the women of the camp had their feet, and the ends of their fingers, stained of a dark saffron colour.
I could never ascertain whether this was done from motives of religion, or by way of ornament. The curiosity of the Moorish ladies had been very troublesome to me ever since my arrival at Benowm.; and on the evening of the 25th (whether from the instigation of others, or impelled by their own ungovernable curiosity, or merely out of frolic, I cannot affirm) a party of them came into my hut, and gave me plainly to understand that the object of their visit was to ascertain, by actual inspection, whether the rite of circumcision extended to the Nazarenes, (Christians,) as well as to the followers of Mahomet. The reader will easily judge of my surprise at this unexpected declaration; and in order to avoid the proposed scrutiny, I thought it best to treat the business jocularly. I observed to them, that it was not customary in my country to give ocular demonstration in such cases, before so many beautiful women; but that if all of them would retire, except the young lady to whom I pointed (selecting the youngest and handsomest), I would satisfy her curiosity. The ladies enjoyed the jest, and went away laughing heartily; and the young damsel herself to whom I had given the preference (though she did not avail herself of the privilege of inspection), seemed no way displeased at the compliment; for she soon afterwards sent me some meal and milk for my supper.
March 28th. This morning a large herd of cattle arrived from the eastward ; and one of the drivers, to whom Ali bad lent my horse, came into my hut with the leg of an antelope as a present, and told me that my horse was standing before Ali's tent. In a little time Ali sent one of his slaves to inform me, that, in the afternoon, I must be in readiness to
ride out with him, as he intended to shew me to some of his women,
About four o'clock, Ali, with six of his courtiers, came riding to my but, and told me to follow them. I readily complied. But here a new difficulty occurred; the Moors, accustomed to a loose and easy dress, could not reconcile themselves to the appearance of my nankeen breeches, which they said were not only inelegant, but, on account of their tightness, very indecent; and as this was a visit to ladies, Ali ordered my boy to bring out the loose cloak which I had always worn since my arrival at Benowm, and told me to wrap it close round me. We visited the tents of four different ladies, at every one of which I was presented with a bowl of milk and water. All these ladies were remarkably corpulent, which is considered here as the highest mark of beauty. They were very inquisitive, and examined my hair and skin with great attention ; but affected to consider me as a sort of inferior being to themselves, and would knit their brows, and seem to shudder, when they looked at the whiteness of my skin. In the course of this evening's excursion, my dress and appearance afforded infinite mirth to the company, who galloped round me as if they were baiting a wild animal; twirling their muskets round their heads, and exhibiting various feats of activity and horsemanship, seemingly to display their superior prowess over a miserable captive.
The Moors are certainly very good horsemen. They ride without fear; their saddles being high before and behind, afford them a very secure seat; and if they chance to fall, the whole country is so soft and sandy, that they are very seldom hurt. Their greatest pride, and one of their principal
amusements is to put the horse to his full speed, and then stop him with a sudden jerk, so as frequently to bring him down upon his haunches. Ali always rode upon a milk-white horse, with its tail dyed red. He never walked, unless when he went to say his prayers; and even in the night, two or three horses were always kept ready saddled, at a little distance from his own tent. The Moors set a very high value upon their horses ; for it is by their superior fleetness, that they are enabled to make so many predatory excursions into the Negro countries. They feed them three or four times a day, and generally give them a large quantity of sweet milk in the evening, which the horses appear to relish very much.
April 3d. This forenoon a child, which had been some time sickly, died in the next tent; and the mother and relations immediately began the death howl. They were joined by a number of female visitors, who came on purpose to assist at this melancholy concert. I had no opportunity of seeing the burial, which is generally performed secretly in the dusk of the evening, and frequently at only a few yards distance from the tent. Over the grave, they plant one particular shrub; and no stranger is allowed to pluck a leaf, or even to touch it; so great a veneration have they for the dead. April 7th.
About four o'clock in the afternoon, a whirlwind passed through the camp with such violence that it overturned three tents, and blew down one side of my hut. These whirlwinds come from the Great Desert, and, at this season of the year, are so common, that I have seen five or six of them at one time. They carry up quantities of sand to an amazing height, which resemble, at a distance, so many moving pillars of smoke.