Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

rode off with their prize, and I was now convinced that they had followed me for plunder for themselves, and not by the orders of Ali.

I was no sooner out of sight of the Arabs than, turning my horse's head once more to the east, I struck into the woods, to escape another pursuit, and pushed on with all possible speed: then, directing my course a little to the northward, I fortunately fell in with the right path; not the way I purposed to go, by Deena and Goomba, but another to the southward of it. The only evil I feared was the falling in with some wandering parties of Arabs; but I was soon sensible that other evils awaited me; I had no means of procuring food, or prospect of finding water.

About four o'clock in the afternoon, I came suddenly upon a large herd of goats, and pulling my

horse into a bush, I watched to discover whether their keepers were Arabs or negroes.

I soon perceived two Arab boys, and with difficulty prevailed

upon them to approach me. They informed me that the goats belonged to Ali; that they were going to Deena, where water was more plentiful; and that they should remain there till the rains had filled the pools in the Desert. They shewed me their empty water skins, and said that they had seen no water in the woods.

I pursued my way as fast as possible, for, by this time, my thirst was become insupportable. I climbed a high tree, and looked around me without discovering a single dwelling; I descended, and falling upon the sand, affected with sickness, faintness, and dimness of sight, I believed my last hour was come. Nature, however, at length resumed her functions, and, on recovering my

[blocks in formation]

senses, I saw the sun sinking behind the trees. I summoned all my resolution, and my horse being too weary to carry me, I drove him before me. When I had proceeded slowly for about an hour, I perceived lightning from the north east ; a most welcome sight, for it promised rain! In less than an hour, I heard the wind roar among the bushes, and I was instantly covered with a cloud of sand. I took shelter under a bush, to prevent my being suffocated. The sand continued to fly in amazing quantities for nearly an hour, when it abated, and I again set forward, travelling with great diffi. culty. About ten o'clock, I saw some vivid flashes of lightning, and heard some heavy drops of rain : I spread out all my clean clothes to catch the shower which I saw must fall, and I quenched my thirst by wringing and sucking them.

The night was dark, and I travelled by the direction of my compass, which the lightning enabled me to observe, till, on a sudden, I saw a number of lights at a short distance, among the trees. I believed them to belong to a party of Arabs, but, in my present desperate situation, I resolved to be certain. I advanced till I heard the lowing of the cattle, and the clamourous voices of the herdsmen, which convinced me that these people were assembled round one of their watering places; and I inadvertently approached so near one of their tents, that I was discovered by a woman. She immediately screamed, and two men eame running to her assistance. They passed very near, happily without seeing me, and I hastened again into the woods.

About a mile from the wells, I heard the croaking of frogs, which was music to my ears. I directed my course by the sound, and, at day-break, arrived at some shallow, muddy pools, where the frogs were so numerous that they disputed the water with me and my horse. Having satisfied my thirst, I ascended a tree, from which I discovered a smoke to the south-south-east, at the distance of twelve or fourteen miles. I rode towards it, and seeing some negroes labouring in the adjacent fields, I enquired the name of the town. They replied that it was called Shrilla, and added that it was a village of Foolahs belonging to Ali. Hunger compelled me to enter it, and I rode to the house of the chief, where I was refused admittance, and where I could not obtain even a handful of corn.

I rode slowly out of the town, and perceiving some scattered huts without the walls, I advanced towards one of them, at the door of which an old, motherly woman sat spinning cotton. I made signs that I was hungry. She immediately laid down her distaff, and desired me, in Arabic, to come into the house. When I had seated myself on the floor, she placed before me a dish of kouskous. I begged a little corn for my horse, which she readily gave me, and I presented her with one of my pocket handkerchiefs.

By this time, the people began to assemble about the house, and I heard some intimation of a desire to escort me back to Ali. I therefore quitted the suburbs of Shrilla, and, to efface the suspicion that I had absconded from the Arabs, I rode off in a northerly direction, which led towards their camp. When I had travelled about two miles, I struck into the woods, and, overcome with fatigue, I lay down to rest, with a bundle of

FOOLAH SHEPHERDS.

65

twigs for my bed, and my saddle for my pillow. I afterwards continued my journey, and arrived, about midnight, at a small pool of rain water, near which I rested as before.

The next day, I came to an encampinent of Foolah shepherds in the vicinity of a watering place, and was received into a tent which was just large enough to contain the family and myself, and just high enough for us to sit upright. A dish of boiled corn and dates was placed before me; but no sooner had the shepherd informed his family that I was a Christian, than the mother crept slowly towards the entrance, and sprang through it like a greyhound, and the children followed her, crying. Nothing could induce them to approach the tent while I stayed. Having thanked the shepherd for his hospitality, and purchased some corn for my horse with some brass buttons, I pursued my way through the woods.

through the woods. At sun-set, I came to a road which took the direction of Bambarra ; and I passed the night under a tree. The next day I arrived at a small town, called Wawra, surrounded by high walls, inhabited by a mixture of Foolahs and Mandingoes, and now tributary to Mansong, King of Bambarra.

Here, being in security from the Arabs, and much fatigued, and the chief, who had been at the Gambia, giving me a hearty welcome, I resolved to rest. I laid myself down upon a bullock's hide, and slept soundly; but the chief having taken this opportunity of examining the contents of the leathern bag in which I carried my wardrobe, and not finding it sufficient to repay him, he told me to depart the next morning.

The following day, I arrived at a town called

[blocks in formation]

Dingyee. The chief, and most of the inhabitants were cultivating corn in the fields, and I wandered about the town, till an old Foolah invited me to his hut, and entertained me with great hospitality. In the morning, when I was about to depart, my host, with much diffidence, begged me to give him a lock of my hair, having been told, he said, that the hair of white men made a safi that communicated to the wearer all the knowledge of white men. I yielded to the Foolah's desire of wisdom, which he gratified so unmercifully that I was afraid all my hair would have been made into safis.

The next day I reached a small town called Wassiboo, where I waited four days for an opportunity of proceeding to Satilé, which is distant a long day's journey, through woods without any beaten path. During this time, I resided at the house of the chief, and amused myself with going into the fields with the family, to plant corn. Cultivation is carried on here upon a very extensive scale, and, as the inhabitants themselves expressed it, “hunger is never known.”

On the 12th of July I set out with eight fugitive Kaartans, who, finding it impossible to live under the tyranny of the Arabs, were going to reside in Bambarra. We travelled with uncommon expedition, but did not reach Satilé till sun-set. Here we had a heavy tornado, which made our road the following day wet and slippery; but the country was beautiful, abounding with rivulets, which the rain had increased into rapid streams. About ten o'clock we passed a monument of that vile spirit which will not allow one man to let ano. ther live; a village ruined by war. The houses

« ZurückWeiter »