Page images
PDF
EPUB

a bazaar of this sort held in Europe (for example an English fair), there would be a row every day, and every hour of the day. Nevertheless, this does not prevent us from calling these Saharan people barbarians.

30th.Very mild weather this morning, but overcast as if rain would soon fall. I have not been long enough in The Desert to read the weather signs, or become weather-wise. Keep the door shut, to prevent an influx of visitors. Now and then a few people get in. Whilst eating my supper this evening, I was surprised at the appearance of two little ragged boys. I asked what they wanted, they returned, “ Eat, eat, we want to eat.” I went out to see them, for they stood on the terrace in the dark. Here I found one of the audacious urchins flourishing a spear ten times as big as himself, menacing me with it. I pushed the little scoundrels down stairs into the street. I could not however help remarking upon their audacity, and the early infant habits of Touarghee “begging by force.” The Ghadamsee people have always been the fair game of the Touaricks. Asking one day a Ghadamsee, “What occupation the Touaricks followed ?" he replied indignantly, “ Beg, beg, beg, , this is their trade! When they get money, they bury it, and beg, beg, beg!” This perhaps, is overstated, still it is curious to witness this first lesson of “we want to eat,” repeated by children of very tender age, with a tone of command and insolence. Khanouhen does not send for his present, and I hear, he will not receive presents. I shall have the more to give away at Aheer.

31st.—Fine morning. I am surprised at my simplicity ; but, apparently, the only thing which I enjoy with pure feelings, is the song of the little birds, the boohabeeba, which frequent my terrace and the house-top, as sparrows familiarly in England. With these I feel I can hold free converse and interchange an unadulterated sympathy. The innocent little creatures remind me of my days of childhood, when I revelled in the woods and corn-fields of Lincolnshire, listening to the song of birds in early fresh spring morn, or bright summer day. Here was the tender chord of childhood associations touched, and no wonder that memory should come in to the aid of sympathy in these unsympathizing deserts. How little at times contents the heart, and fills the aching vacuum of the mind! In this we cannot fail to see an arrangement of infinite wisdom. If only great things could satisfy the mind of man, how prodigiously our miseries would be increased, for how few are the things deserving to be called great! Called this morning on Hateetah. Put him in a better humour, by telling him I would give him an extra present. On returning, stopped at a stall, where were exposed for sale, onions, trona, dates, and other things. The women immediately caught alarm, afraid I was going to throw a glance of “the evil eye” on their little property. They cried out, “ There is one God, and Mahomet is the prophet of God!" I made off quick enough from this unseemly uproar. Saw afterwards the Governor. Called to ask him to allow his servants to make me some cuscasou, which request his Excellency granted immediately. He said :—“In travelling to Soudan adopt the dress of the Ghadamsee merchants, •and let your beard grow.” The Governor refuses to say anything of Kandarka. Probably they have quarrelled. Our merchants give the Tibboos a bad character, and the caravans are afraid of them.,

77

CHAPTER XIX.

ABANDON THE TOUR TO SOUDAN.

Violent Act of a Touarick on Slaves. Visit to the Princess Lilla

Fatima.-Mode of grinding Corn.-Dilatoriness of Commercial Transactions.-Grandees of Ghat Town.-Khanouhen refuses his Present.-Rumours of the Conquest of Algeria spread throughout Africa. - Small Breed of Animals in Sahara.-Queer circumstance of unearthly Voices. — The Cold becomes intense. Arrival of Sheikh Berka.—Hateetah in good Humour.- _My Targhee friend, Sidi Omer.—Visit from Kandarka; bis Character.- Visit to the aged Berka, and find the Giant.—Hateetah's Political Gossips.— At a loss wbich Route to take, and how to proceed.—Superstitions connected with the Butcher.—Zeal of an old Hag against The Christian.--Out of Humour.-Reported departure of Caravans.—Jabour calls with a Patient.-- Visit Bel Kasem, and find Khanouhen.—Political Factions of Azgher Touaricks.-Giants in The Desert.-Fanciful analogies of origin of Peoples.—Hierarchy of the Sheikhs.—Population, Arms, and Military Forces of the Ghat Touaricks.—The Mahry or Maharee.-Camels named from their Fleetness. - Touarghee Court of Justice —Amphitheatrical style of Touaricks lounging.-Amount of Customs-Dues paid by Gbat Traders.-Free Trade in Sabara.

1st January, 1846.—YESTERDAY I saw two slaves, both of whom had gashes on their arms and legs, the blood flowing from one poor fellow profusely. I asked,

“ Who has done this?"
The Slaves.—“ A Touarghee."
“ What for ?" I continued.
The Slaves.—“Nothing."

I found afterwards the slaves were doing some work in the gardens which the Touarghee thought should have been given to him. Touaricks seldom get into passion, but when the blood boils the dagger is immediately had recourse to for the arrangement of their quarrels. The Touaricks have many slaves, but male slaves, for they rarely mix their blood with the negro race. Called upon Hateetah with his extra present of four dollars' value. He then began in an excited humour,“ To-morrow come to me, Shafou will be here. We must arrange to send a maharee to the English Sultan.” I suggested his brother should take it to Tripoli. He sprung up from his bed with joy, “Yes, good, Shafou and I will arrange everything. Nobody else must come here but you. It must be all done in secret.” Hateetah is frightened of Khanouhen, and knows the Sultan has no will of his own unless kept apart from that powerful prince. Touaricks, when something is to be had, soon get excited, like the rest of us.

Afterwards, Said and I carried the present for Khanouhen to the prince's house. I spoke to the Governor, who recommended me, by all means, notwithstanding the Sheikh's protestations, to send him a handsome present. I submitted to the Governor's opinion. Khanouhen resides in some apartments of the Governor's palace; this is the prince's town residence. We were conducted to the apartment of his lady, Lilla Fatima, (the prince being out,) by her nephews. Her Royal Highness received us courteously, and the interview was extremely amusing. I began by apologizing for the top of “the head of sugar*” being broken off. This made the lady almost faint. “What !” she protestingly exclaimed, “ Khanouhen is The Great Sultan! Shafou is compared

* The merchants call these loaves of French beet-root sugar, Ras, i.e., “head.”

none.

to him like the sand ! (taking up a little sand from the floor and scattering it about with her hands.) My husband is lord and master of all the Touaricks. He has the word ready; from his lips, all the Touaricks, all the merchants, all the strangers, all the Christians who come here, receive their commands and instantly obey them. And you bring him a loaf of sugar with the head knocked off! Oh, this is not pretty! This is not right, and I am afraid for your sake.” I pleaded inability to find another loaf this morning, but promised to bring one to-morrow. Her Royal Highness then begged for more things. “You see the grunfel (cloves) is not for me; it is for Khanouhen's other wife in the country. Khanouhen will take it all away to her, and leave me

Now you must, indeed, bring me some grunfel.I then recommended her to get it divided, at which she laughed heartily, adding, “ Ah, Khanouhen likes her in the country better than me.” I then put Her Royal Highness in a good humour by telling her I would send her some beads, and if I should return to Tripoli, and come back to Ghat, I would bring her several presents. She added, “My husband Khanouhen related to me all the things which you intended to give him, which you showed him in your room. Also, you said you would give him a little lock and key, where is it?"

This I had not brought with me, thinking the Sheikh would not accept of such a trifling thing, but I was mistaken. The Touaricks will take everything you offer them, and not hurt your self-complacency of conferring a favour by refusal. I must finish with this lady, whose tongue ran along at a tremendous rate, by adding, that to show her regard for me, (and for herself likewise,

« PreviousContinue »