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in that direction ; and though I made him repeat this information, again and again, I never found him to vary more than half a point, which was to the southward.
April 24th. This morning Shereef Sidi Mahomed Moora Abdalla, a native of Morocco, arrived with five bullocks loaded with salt. He had formerly resided some months at Gibraltar, where he had picked up as much English as enabled him to make himself understood. He informed me, that he had been five months in coming from Santa Cruz; but that great part of the time had been spent in trading. When I requested him to enumerate the days employed in travelling from Morocco to Benowm, he gave them as follows ; – to Swera, three days; to Agadier, three ; to Jiniken, ten ; to Wadenoon, four; to Lakeneigh, five; to Zeeriwin-zeriman, five; to Tisheet, ten ; to Benowm, ten ; in all fifty days ; but travellers usually rest a long while at Jiniken and Tisheet; at the latter of which places they dig the rock salt, which is so great an article of commerce with the Negroes.
In conversing with these Shereefs, and the different strangers that resorted to the camp, I passed my time with rather less uneasiness than formerly. On the other hand, as the dressing of my victuals was now left entirely to the care of Ali's slaves, over whom I had not the smallest control, I found myself but ill supplied, worse even than in the fast month ; for two successive nights they neglected to send us our accustomed meal, and though my boy went to a small Negro town near the camp, and begged with great diligence from hut to hut, he could only procure a few handfuls of ground nuts, which he readily shared with me. Hunger, at first, is certainly a' very painful sensation ; but when it has continued for some time, this pain is succeeded by languor and debility; in which case, a draught of water, by keeping the stomach distended, will greatly exhilarate the spirits, and remove for a short time every sort of uneasiness. Johnson and Demba were very much dejected. They lay stretched upon the sand, in a sort of torpid slumber: and even when the kouskous arrived, I found some difficulty in awakening them. I felt no inclination to sleep, but was affected with a deep convulsive respiration, like constant sighing: and, what alarmed me still more, a dimness of sight, and a tendency to faint when I attempted to sit up. These syinptoms did not go off until some time after I had received nourishment.
We had been for some days in daily expectation of Ali's return from Saheel (or the north country) with his wife Fatima. In the meanwhile Mansong, King of Bambarra, as I have related in Chapter VIII. had sent to Ali for a party of horse to assist in storming Gedingooma. With this demand Ali had not only refused to comply, but had treated the messengers with great haughtiness and contempt; upon which Mansong gave up all thoughts of taking the town, and
prepared to chastise Ali for his contumacy.
Things were in this situation when, on the 29th of April, a messenger arrived at Benowm with the disagreeable intelligence that the Bambarra army was approaching the frontiers of Ludamar. This threw the whole country into confusion ; and in the afternoon Ali's son with about twenty horsemen arrived at Benowm. He ordered all the cattle to be driven away immediately, all the tents to be struck, and the people to hold themselves in readiness to depart at daylight the next morning.
April 30th. At daybreak the whole camp was in motion. The baggage was carried upon bullocks, the two tent poles being placed one on each side, and the different wooden articles of the tent distributed in like manner; the tent cloth was thrown over all, and upon this was commonly placed one or two women ; for the Moorish women are very bad walkers. The king's favourite concubines rode upon camels, with a saddle of a particular construction, and a canopy to shelter them from the sun. We proceeded to the northward until noon, when the king's son ordered the whole company except two tents to enter a thick low wood, which was upon our right. I was sent along with the two tents, and arrived in the evening at a Negro town called Farani: here we pitched the tents in an open place, at no great distance from the town.
The hurry and confusion which attended this decampment, prevented the slaves from dressing the usual quantity of victuals; and lest their dry provisions should be exhausted before they reached their place of destination, (for as yet none but Ali and the chief men knew whither we were going,) they thought proper to make me observe this day as a day of fasting
May 1st. As I had some reason to suspect that this day was also to be considered as a fast, I went in the morning to the Negro town of Farani, and begged some provisions from the Dooty, who readily supplied my wants, and desired me to come to his house every day during my stay in the neighbourhood. These hospitable people are looked upon by the Moors as an abject race of slaves, and are treated accordingly. Two of Ali's household slaves, a man and a woman, who had come along with the two tents, went this morning to water the cattle from the town wells, at which there began to be a great scarcity. When the Negro women observed the cattle approaching, they took up their pitchers and ran with all possible baste towards the town, but before they could enter the gate, they were stopped by the slaves, who compelled them to bring back the water they had drawn for their own families, and empty it into the troughs for the cattle. When this was exhausted, they were ordered to draw water until such time as the cattle had all drank; and the woman slave actually broke two wooden bowls over the heads of the black girls, because they were somewhat dilatory in obeying her commands.
May 3d. We departed from the vicinity of Farani, and after a circuitous route through the woods, arrived at Ali's camp in the afternoon. This encampment was larger than that of Benowm, and was situated in the middle of a thick wood about two miles distant from a Negro town, called Bubaker. I immediately waited upon Ali, in order to pay my respects to Queen Fatima, who had come with him from Saheel. He seemed much pleased with my coming; shook hands with me, and informed his wife that I was the Christian. She was a woman of the Arab cast, with long black hair, and remarkably corpulent. She appeared at first rather shocked at the thought of having a Christian so near her ; but when I had (by means of a Negro boy, who spoke the Mandingo and Arabic tongues) answered a great many questions, which her curiosity suggested, respecting the country of the Christians, she seemed more at ease, and presented me with a bowl of milk; which I considered as a very favourable omen.
The heat was now almost insufferable; all nature seemed sinking under it. The distant country presented to the eye a dreary expanse of sand, with a few stunted trees and prickly bushes, in the shade of which the hungry cattle licked up
the withered grass, while the camels and goats picked off the scanty foliage. The scarcity of water was greater here than at Benowm. Day and night the wells were crowded with cattle, lowing and fighting with each other to come at the troughs: excessive thirst made many of them furious: others being too weak to contend for the water, endeavoured to quench their thirst by devouring the black mud from the gutters near the wells; which they did with great avidity, though it was commonly fatal to them.
This great scarcity of water was felt severely by all the people of the camp, and by none more than myself; for though Ali allowed me a skin for containing water, and Fatima, once or twice, gave me a small supply, when I was in distress, yet such was the barbarous disposition of the Moors at the wells, that when my boy attempted to fill the skin, he commonly received a sound drubbing for his presumption. Every one was astonished that the slave of a Christian should attempt to draw water from wells which had been dug by the followers of the Prophet. This treatment, at length, so frightened the boy, that I believe he would sooner have perished with thirst, than attempted again to fill the skin ; he therefore contented himself with begging water from the Negro slaves that attended the camp; and I followed his example, but with very indifferent success; for though I let no opportunity slip, and was very urgent in my solicitations, both to the Moors and the Negroes, I was but ill