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hind.—Essnousee foiled in attempting to beat one of his
Arrival at Ghat, and reception by its Inhabitants.—The Cold of
The Sahara.-Haj Ahmed, the Governor, and Sheikh Jabour.Distribute Presents to the Governor and Jabour.- Visit the Sheikh Hateetah, styled the British Consul of Ghat.—Make the acquaintance of the Tripoline Merchant Haj Ibrahim.-The Ghat Rabble.—Quweek arrives in Ghat.-A Visit from Touarick Women.- Arabs begging from me by force.- Arrival of Kandarka from A heer.—Bel Kasem's account of the Slave Trade.Visit to Haj Ahmed, the Governor; his Character and Establishment described.-Bel Kasem's Sick Slave.-All classes of People attempt to convert me to Mohammedanism.-Bad effect of an European Tourist assuming the Character of a Mahometan.-Touarghee mode of Saluting.–Miserable condition of Slaves on arriving from Soudan.-Soudanese Merchants friendly to me.- Visit from the Governor.—Report in The Desert of Christians Worshipping Idols.-- Make the Acquaintance of a yonng Touarghee.-Slave Trading and Kidnapping Slaves up The Niger.—Economical Bill of Expenses of Journey from Ghat to Soudan.
15th.—Rose two hours before daybreak in order to arrive early at Ghat in the morning. About ten A.M., the palms of Ghat were visible through the scattered blocks of rock in the valley, for the plain became now
contracted and assumed the shape of a deep broad valley, on the one side a low range of sand-hills, and on the other the high rocky chain of Wareerat. But the first sight of the oasis, after nineteen weary days of Desert, affected me with only disagreeable sensations. The affair of Ouweek, though pretty well got over, had shaken my confidence in the Touaricks. Indeed, the painful forebodings of the last forty hours had seriously deranged my plans, and made me think of returning, availing myself the most of my unsuccessful tour. This suffering of thought day after day is intense and worries me, and will soon make me an old man, if not in years. It was the sudden shock of the affair just after receiving the messenger of peace from Ghat. I saw at once that there was a great deal of insubordination in the lesser chieftains, which made travelling in this country very insecure. I remembered the remark of my taleb, “ All the Touaricks are the Divan, and each has his own opinion, and carries it out in spite of the Sultan.”
We were now met by the friends of the Ghadamsee merchants, but with the exception of Essnousee and two or three others, I received few salutes of welcome ; and when we got up to the gates of the city (at noon), not a single person of our caravan offered me the least assistance, either in interpreting or otherwise. I felt myself in a most deplorable predicament, but I reflected that all men must each one look after his own business, so our people were now each one occupied with his own affairs. I felt much the want of a good Moorish or Arab servant. Said was of no use whatever in this case. Strangers and loungers crowded and clamoured round me, anxious to look at the face of “ The Christian.” It was covered with my travelling handkerchief, and when I untied my face to gratify their curiosity, they burst out with the rude and wild expression of surprise, “Whooh! Whooh! Whey!" Amongst this mob I at once distinguished a number of the Aheer and Soudan merchants. These showed the greatest curiosity, but my outer dress being entirely Moorish, there was little novelty in my appearance, nay, scarcely any to point me out from the rest of the caravan. Several of the Ghat people then asked me what I wanted. I told them, the Governor of Ghat. I was not understood. At last came up to me a young Tripoline Moor of the name of Mustapha, who volunteered his services as Touarghee and Arabic interpreter, but, of course, our conversation was always in Arabic. Amidst a cluster of Touaricks and Ghat townsmen, the Governor was pointed out. Several Sheikhs were present, but it appears they gave precedence to the Governor's son from a feeling of shamefacedness. Haj Ahmed's son is a very nice polite young gentleman, as smart as a Parisian dandy. After a little delay he conducted us to a house, in which some of his father's slaves were living. It was a dark dreadful dilapidated hovel. The young gentleman most earnestly apologized, protesting “ The town is full of people, merchants, and strangers. We have nothing better left in the town. Perhaps you will come and live in our house out of the town.” We looked out our baggage, which had been conveyed for us by Arabs of our caravan, and were astonished to find it scattered about outside the city gates, the caravan people having thrown it down there. However, nothing was lost, and this at once impressed me with the remarkable honesty of the Ghatee people. I took up my quarters in a small room built on the terrace, without window or door, but very airy. A roof of mud and straw was now a luxurious and splendid mansion to me.
At least a dozen slaves were occupied in carrying my baggage from outside the gates to my domicile, each carrying some trifle. No camels or beast of burden are allowed to enter the city gates, all goods and merchandize are carried by slaves in and out. Like the porters at the different traveller-stations in Europe, each of these slaves seized hold of the merest trifle of baggage, a stick or a bit of cord, in order to make an exorbitant demand of the value of a shilling. The Desert furnishes a parallel for every circumstance of civilized life.
The last night or two I had found it very cold, and the wind too high for tents. I may observe here, conveniently, the cold was so great in this portion of Sahara, that I never could undress myself for dread of the cold. After loosening my neckcloth and shoes, I lay down in the dress which I wore during the day. My bed was a simple mattress laid over a piece of matting, which latter was spread on the hard earth or sands of The Desert, as it might be, with a small sofa cushion for a pillow. After I had laid down the mattress, I then covered myself up with a large woollen barracan or blanket, very thick and heavy, and over this was also drawn a darkblue European cloak. The cloth distinguished my bed from those of the merchants, and the nagah always ·knew the encampment by the sight of this Christian garment. When I wore it in the day she was immediately sensible of the presence of her master. I did not pitch a tent, for we could not, but formed a sort of