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we came to the entrance of the court in which the king resides, both my guide and interpreter, according to custom, took off their sandals; and the former pronounced the king's name aloud, repeating it till he was answered from within. We found the monarch sitting upon a mat, and two attendants with him. I repeated what I had before told him concerning the object of my journey, and my reasons for passing through his country. He seemed, however, but half satisfied. The notion of travelling for curiosity was quite new to him. He thought it impossible, he said, that any man in his senses would undertake so dangerous a journey, merely to look at the country and its inhabitants : however, when I offered to shew him the contents of my portmanteau, and every thing belonging to me, he was convinced : and it was evident that his suspicion bad arisen from a belief, that every white man must of necessity be a trader. When I had delivered my presents, he seemed well pleased, and was particularly delighted with the umbrella, which he repeatedly furled and unfurled, to the great admiration of himself and his two attendants; who could not for some time comprehend the use of this wonderful machine. After this I was about to take my leave, when the king, desiring me to stop awhile, began a long preamble in favour of the whites; extolling their immense wealth, and good dispositions. He next proceeded to an eulogium on my blue coat, of which the yellow buttons seemed particularly to catch his fancy; and he concluded by intreating me to present him with it; assuring me, for my consolation under the loss of it, that he would wear it on all public occasions, and inform every one who saw it, of my great liberality towards him. The request of an African prince, in his own dominions, particularly when made to a stranger, comes little short of a command. It is only a way of obtaining by gentle means, what he can, if he pleases, take by force; and as it was against my interest to offend bim by a refusal, I very quietly took off my coat, the only good one in my possession, and Jaid it at his feet.
In return for my compliance, he presented me with great plenty of provisions, and desired to see me again in the morning. I accordingly attended, and found him sitting upon
his bed. He told me he was sick, and wished to have a little blood taken from him ; but I had no sooner tied up his arm, and displayed the lancet, than his courage failed ; and he begged me to postpone the operation till the afternoon, as he felt himself, he said, much better than he had been, and thanked me kindly for my readiness to serve him. He then observed that his women were very desirous to see me, and requested that I would favour them with a visit. An attendant was ordered to conduct me; and I had no sooner entered the court appropriated to the ladies, than the whole seraglio surrounded me; some begging for physic, some for amber: and all of them desirous of trying that great African specific, blood-letting. They were ten or twelve in number, most of them young and handsome, and wearing on their heads ornaments of gold, and beads of amber.
They rallied me with a good deal of gaiety on different subjects; particularly upon the whiteness of my skin, and the prominency of my nose. They insisted that both were artificial. The first, they said, was produced when I was an infant, by dipping me in milk; and they insisted that my nose had been pinched every day, till it had acquired its
present unsightly and unnatural conformation. On my part, without disputing my own deformity, I paid them many compliments on African beauty. I praised the glossy jet of their skins, and the lovely depression of their noses; but they said that flattery, or (as they emphatically termed it) honeymouth, was not esteemed in Bondou. In return, however, for my company or my compliments (to which, by the way, they seemed not so insensible as they affected to be), they presented me with a jar of honey and some fish, which were sent to my lodging; and I was desired to come again to the king a little before sunset.
I carried with me some beads and writing paper, it being usual to present some small offering on taking leave; in return for which, the king gave me five drachms of gold; observing, that it was but a trifle, and given out of pure friendship; but would be of use to me in travelling, for the purchase of provisions. He seconded this act of kindness by one still greater; politely telling me, that though it was customary to examine the baggage of every traveller passing through his country, yet, in the present instance, he would dispense with that ceremony; adding, I was at liberty to depart when I pleased.
Accordingly on the morning of the 23d, we left Fatteconda, and about eleven o'clock came to a small village, where we determined to stop for the rest of the day.
In the afternoon my fellow travellers informed me, that as this was the boundary between Bondou and Kajaaga, and dangerous for travellers, it would be necessary to continue our journey by night, until we should reach a more hospitable part of the country. I agreed to the proposal, and hired two people for guides through the woods ; and as soon as the peo ple of the village were gone to sleep (the moon shining bright) we set out. The stillness of the air, the howling of the wild beasts, and the deep solitude of the forest, made the scene solemn and impressive. Not a word was uttered by any of us, but in a whisper; all were attentive, and every one anxious to show his sagacity, by pointing out to me the wolves and byænas as they glided, like shadows, from one thicket to another. Towards morning, we arrived at a village called Kimmoo, where our guides awakened one of their acquaintances, and we stopped to give the asses some corn, and roast a few ground-nuts for ourselves. At day-light we resumed our journey, and in the afternoon arrived at Joag in the kingdom of Kajaaga.
Being now in a country, and among a people, differing in many respects from those that have as yet fallen under our observation, I shall, before I proceed further, give some acco unt of Bondou (the territory we have left), and inhabitants, the Foulabs, the description of whom I purposely reserved for this part of my work.
Bondou is bounded on the east by Bambouk; on the south-east, and south, by Tenda, and the Simbani Wilderness; on the south-west by Woolli; on the west, by Foota Torra; and on the north, by Kajaaga.
The country, like that of Woolli, is very generally covered with woods, but the land is more elevated, and towards the Falemé river
, rises into considerable bills. In native fertility the soil is not surpassed, I believe, by any part of Africa.
From the central situation of Bondou, between the Gambia and Senegal rivers, it is become a place of great resort ;
both for the Slatees, who generally pass through it, in going from the coast to the interior countries; and for occasional traders, who frequently come hither from the inland countries, to purchase salt.
These different branches of commerce are conducted principally by Mandingoes and Serawoollies, who have settled in the country. These merchants likewise carry on a considerable trade with Gedumah, and other Moorish countries, bartering corn and blue cotton cloths for salt; which they again barter in Dentila and other districts for iron, sheabutter, and small quantities of gold-dust. They likewise sell a variety of sweet smelling gums packed up in small bags, containing each about a pound. These gums, being thrown on hot embers, produce a very pleasant odour, and are used by the Mandingoes for perfuming their huts and clothes.
The customs, or duties on travellers, are very heavy: in almost every town an ass load pays a bar of European merchandize; and at Fatteconda, the residence of the king, one Indian baft, or a musquet, and six bottles of gunpowder, are exacted as a common tribute. By means of these duties, the King of Bondou is well supplied with arms and ammunition ; a circumstance which makes him formidable to the neighbouring states.
The inbabitants differ in their complexions and national manners from the Mandingoes and Serawoollies, with whom they are frequently at war. Some years ago the King of Bondou crossed the Falemé river with a numerous army, and after a short and bloody campaign totally defeated the forces of Samboo, King of Bambouk, who was obliged to