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Provisions were here so cheap that I purchased a bullock for six small stones of amber; for I found my company increase or diminish according to the good fare they met with.
Dec. 18th. Early in the morning we departed from Dooggi, and being joined by a number of Foulahs and other people, made a formidable appearance ; and were under no apprehension of being plundered in the woods. About eleven o'clock one of the asses proving very refractory, the Negroes took a curious method to make him tractable. They cut a forked stick, and putting the forked part into the ass's mouth, like the bit of a bridle, tied the two smaller parts together above his head, leaving the lower part of the stick of sufficient length to strike against the ground if the ass should attempt to put his head down. After this, the ass walked along quietly, and gravely enough, taking care, after some practice, to hold his head sufficiently high to prevent the stones or roots of trees from striking against the end of the stick, which experience had taught him would give a severe shock to his teeth. This contrivance produced a ludicrous appearance, but my fellow-travellers told me it was constantly adopted by the Slatees, and always proved effectual.
In the evening we arrived at a few scattered villages, surrounded with extensive cultivation ; at one of which, called Buggil, we passed the night in a miserable hut, having no other bed than a bundle of corn stalks, and no provisions but what we brought with us. The wells here are dug with great ingenuity, and are very deep. I measured one of the bucket ropes, and found the depth of the well to be twentyeight fathoms.
Dec. 19th. We departed from Buggil, and travelled along a dry, stony height, covered with mimosas, till mid-day; when the land sloped towards the east, and we descended into a deep valley, in which I observed abundance of whinstone, and white quartz. Pursuing our course to the eastward, along this valley, in the bed of an exhausted river course, we came to a large village, where we intended to lodge. We found many
of the natives dressed in a thin French gauze, which they called Byqui; this being a light airy dress, and well calculated to display the shape of their persons, is much esteemed by the ladies. The manners of these females, however, did not correspond with their dress ; for they were rude and troublesome in the highest degree; they surrounded me in numbers, begging for amber, beads, &c.; and were so vehement in their solicitations, that I found it impossible to resist them. They tore my cloak, cut the buttons from my boy's clothes, and were proceeding to other outrages, when I mounted my horse and rode off, followed for half a mile by a body of these harpies.
In the evening we reached Soobrudooka, and as my company was numerous, (being fourteen) I purchased a sheep, and abundance of corn for supper; after which we lay down by the bundles, and passed an uncomfortable night in a heavy dew.
Dec. 20th. We departed from Soobrudooka, and at two o'clock reached a large village situated on the banks of the Falemé river, which is here rapid and rocky. The natives were employed in fishing in various ways. The large fish were taken in long baskets made of split cane, and placed in a strong current, which was created by walls of stone built across the stream, certain open places being left, through which the water rushed with great force. Some of these baskets were more than twenty feet long, and when once the fish had entered one of them, the force of the stream prevented it from returning. The small fish were taken in great numbers in hand-nets, which the natives weave of cotton, and use with great dexterity. The fish last mentioned are about the size of sprats, and are prepared for sale in different ways; the most common is by pounding them entire as they come from the stream, in a wooden mortar, and exposing them to dry in the sun, ,
in large lumps, like sugar loafs. It may be supposed that the smell is not very agreeable ; but in the Moorish countries to the north of the Senegal, where fish is scarcely known, this preparation is esteemed as a luxury, and sold to considerable advantage. The manner of using it by the natives is, by dissolving a piece of this black loaf in boiling water and mixing it with their kouskous.
I thought it very singular at this season of the year to find the banks of the Falemé every where covered with large and beautiful fields of corn ; but on examination I found it was not the same species of grain as is commonly cultivated on the Gambia ; it is called by the natives Manio, and grows in the dry season ; is very prolific, and is reaped in the month of January. It is the same which, from the depending position of the ear, is called by botanical writers holcus cernuus.
On returning to the village, after an excursion to the river side, to inspect the fishery, an old Moorish shereeff came to bestow his blessing upon me, and beg some paper to write saphies upon. This man had seen Major Houghton in the kingdom of Kaarta, and told me that he died in the country
of the Moors.
gave him a few sheets of paper, and he levied a similar tribute from the blacksmith ; for it is customary for young Mussalmen to make presents to the old ones, in order to obtain their blessing, which is pronounced in Arabic, and received with great humility.
About three in the afternoon we continued our course along the bank of the river, to the northward, till eight o'clock, when we reached Nayemow: here the hospitable master of the town received us kindly, and presented us with a bullock. In return, I gave him some amber and beads.
Dec. 21st. In the morning, having agreed for a canoe to carry over my bundles, I crossed the river, which came up to my knees as I sat on my horse ; but the water is so clear, that from the high bank, the bottom is visible all the way over.
About noon we entered Fatteconda, the capital of Bondou : and in a little time received an invitation to the house of a respectable Slatee: for as there are no public houses in Africa, it is customary for strangers to stand at the Bentang, or some other place of public resort, till they are invited to a lodging by some of the inhabitants. We accepted the offer; and in an hour afterwards, a person came and told me that he was sent on purpose to conduct me to the king, who was very desirous of seeing me immediately, if I was not too much fatigued.
I took my interpreter with me, and followed the messenger till we got quite out of the town, and crossed some corn fields; when suspecting some trick, I stopped, and asked the guide whither he was going. Upon which he pointed to a man sitting under a tree at some little distance; and told me that
the king frequently gave audience in that retired manner, in order to avoid a crowd of people; and that nobody but myself and my interpreter must approach him. When I advanced, the king desired me to come and sit by him upon the mat; and after hearing my story, on which he made no observation, he asked if I wished to purchase any slaves, or gold : being answered in the negative, he seemed rather surprised; but desired me to come to him in the evening, and he would give me some provisions.
This monarch was called Almami; a Moorish name, though I was told that he was not a Mahomedan, but a Kafir, or Pagan. I had heard that he had acted towards Major Houghton with great unkindness, and caused him to be plundered. His behaviour, therefore, towards myself at this interview, though much more civil than I expected, was far from freeing me from uneasiness. I still apprehended some double dealing; and as I was now entirely in his power, I thought it best to smooth the way by a present; accordingly I took with me in the evening, one canister of gunpowder, some amber, tobacco, and my umbrella : and as I considered that my bundles would inevitably be searched, I concealed some few articles in the roof of the hut where I lodged, and I put on my new blue coat, in order to preserve it.
All the houses belonging to the king and his family are surrounded by a lofty mud wall, which converts the whole into a kind of citadel. The interior is subdivided into different courts. At the first place of entrance I observed a man standing with a musket on his shoulder; and I found the way to the presence very intricate, leading through many passages, with centinels placed at the different doors. . When