Page images

merchants. One of them said, “Say There is but one God,' &c.” I answered “This is prohibited to us,” which made them laugh out. They have not that fierce bigotry of the north-coast merchants. Visited Haj Ibrahim. He says, “Wait for me till next year, and we'll both go together to Soudan. I'll protect you.” Certainly this Moor has hitherto shown himself extremely friendly to

Khanouhen came in this evening from the country.





Arrival of the Sultan Shafou.— Visit to His Highness.- Visit to

Hateetah; his jealousy of the Sultan and other Sheikhs.- Visit from the People of the Oasis of Berkat.-Said sobbing and sulking.--A Night-School in The Desert.—Use of Sand instead of Paper, Pens, and Ink.--Mode of Touarghee succession to the Throne.—Women hereditary possessors of Household Property. -Negresses are Dramatic Performers. — Description of the Oasis of Ghat; Houses, Architecture, Gardens, and Surrounding Country.–Visit from the Heir-Apparent, Khanouhen.-Genial softness of the Weather.Specimen of Retail Trade.-Case of administering Justice by the Sultan.—Early habit of 'Touarghee begging.--The Bou-Habeeba, or Saharan Singing Sparrows. — Alarm of Female Hucksters at The Christian.

27th.- A FINE morning. Feel better in health. The Touarghee Sultan, Mohammed Shafou Ben Seed, came in this morning from the country districts. His Highness is Sultan of all the Ghat Touaricks, or those of Azgher.

Arrived to-day another portion of the Soudan ghafalah. There was a false report this morning of the appearance of the Shânbah. Musket firing was heard in various directions, and the people ran together, some mounting the tops of the houses to see the fighting which was supposed to be going on between the Shânbah and Touaricks. The Arabs, with their matchlocks in their hands, ran after their camels to prevent them from being carried off. The hubbub was most singular and bewildering. I expected to have to report skirmish after skirmish, in the capture of Ghat, for the

benefit of The Leading London Journal. The true cause at length appeared in the arrival of the Sultan, the firing of matchlocks heard at a distance being done in honour of His Highness, and his coming to his town residence. So it is, in a little place like this a false report may work wonders in a few minutes. People are charmed with these rumours : they are their oral newspaper excitement. In the streets were now heard “Shafou! Shafou!” “It is Shafou! It is Shafou! It is Shafou!” “ Shafou has come!”

As soon as the Sultan arrived, without waiting more than three or four hours, I determined to visit His Highness, and carry him a small present. I could not yet tell how the Sultan would look upon my projected journey to Soudan. Fortunately. I found Essnousee in the streets, who volunteered his services as interpreter. Haj Ibrahim was also so good as to embrace the opportunity of going with us. This had a good effect, and served to give my visit consequence, Haj Ibrahim being the most respectable foreigner now in Ghat. He was also a stranger to His Highness as well as myself.

We found His Highness, at about a quarter of a mile's distance out of the town, sitting down by himself alone upon the sand, aside of a large hasheesh house, or hut of date-palm branches. The attendants of His Highness, who were not very numerous, sat at a considerable distance off. In this primitive way and Desert style he had been receiving various personages ever since his arrival this morning. As soon as His Highness saw us approaching him, he bade us welcome by signs and salutations in the style of the Touaricks, slowly raising his right arm as high as his shoulders, and turning the palm of the outspread hand to us. Haj Ibrahim was first introduced, but the Sultan could not keep off his eyes from me. At last the Sultan made a sign to Essnousee to speak on my behalf. Essnousee explained very deliberately and minutely everything respecting me—where and when he saw me at Tripoli, how I went to 'Ghadames, came here from that place, and what were my intentions in proposing to go to Soudan. The Sultan then turned to me, and said, “Go, Christian, wherever you please: in my country fear nothing-go where everybody else goes.” After this I presented my little backsheesh to His Highness, consisting of a small carpet-rug to sit or recline upon, a zamailah or turban, and a shumlah or sash, large and full, and scarlet, like the Spaniards wear. On giving the servant of His Highness the present, (which was covered, and not exposed before His Highness, as a matter of delicacy,) I said, through Essnousee, “ This present is from me, and not from my Sultan, nor the Consul at Tripoli, nor any persons in my country; it is extremely small, and scarcely worth accepting. But, probably, if your Highness should protect Englishmen through your country, and allow English merchants to come and traffic in Ghat, a greater and richer present will be sent to you hereafter.” His Highness replied, “ Thank you; I'm an old man now, and want but little: we have a little bread, and milk of the nagah (she-camel), and for which we praise God. Don't fear our people—no one shall hurt you.” Indeed, I saw the old gentleman was thankful for any trifle. My little backsheesh was, perhaps, of the value of ten dollars, and was the largest present I had yet made. I then asked His Highness

whether he would write a letter for me to the Sultan of Aheer, and one to the Queen of England, stating that he would give protection to all British subjects passing through The Touarghee Desert? The Sultan replied, “ All that you want I will do for you, please God.” I determined to risk a word on Desert politics. I said, “Your Highness must exterminate the Shânbah, for they are a band of robbers.” The Sultan replied, “Please God we will; we are now preparing the camels to go out against them.” Essnousee and Haj Ibrahim considered the words of the Sultan delivered in the most friendly spirit. Shafou was dressed very plainly and very dirtily; and yet there sat upon his aged countenance (for he was full seventy years of age) a most venerable expression of dignity. His Highness wore a dark-blue cotton frock of Soudanic manufacture, and black-blue trowsers of the same kind of cotton. On his head was a red cap, around which was folded in very large folds a white turban. He had, like all Touaricks, a dagger suspended under the left arm, but no other weapon near him, or on his person. By his side, on the sand, lay a huge stick with which he walks, instead of the lance. His mouth and chin were covered with a thin blue cotton wrapper, a portion of the litham. Around his neck were suspended a few amulets, sewn up in red leathern bags. His Highness was without shoes, and his legs were quite bare; his feet lay half-buried in the sand. He spoke very slow and under tone, scarcely audible, and at times the conversation was interrupted by the silence of the dead. All his deportment was like that of a Sultan of these wilds; and the ancient Sheikh felt all the consciousness of his power. The Desert

« PreviousContinue »