Part 4 out of 8

coffee, ate a morsel of dhurra bread, and started along the high
ground parallel with the course of the Settite river up stream.

"After walking for upwards of four hours over ground covered with
tracks of giraffes, elephants, and antelopes about a fortnight
old, I saw four tetel (Antelopus Bubalis), but I was unfortunate
in my shot at a long range in high grass. We had been marching
south-east, and as I intended to return to camp, we now turned
sharp to the west. The country was beautiful, composed of
alternate glades, copses, and low mimosa forest. At length I
espied the towering head of a giraffe about half a mile distant;
he was in the mimosa forest, and was already speculating upon our
party, which he had quickly observed. Leaving my men in this spot
to fix his attention, I succeeded in making a good stalk to
within one hundred and twenty yards of him. He was exactly facing
me, and I waited for him to turn and expose the flank, but he
suddenly turned so quickly that I lost the opportunity, and he
received the bullet in his back as he started at full speed; for
the moment he reeled crippled among the mimosas, but, recovering,
he made off. I could not fire the left-hand barrel on account of
the numerous trees and bushes. I called my men, and followed for
a few hundred yards upon his track, but as this was directly in
an opposite direction to that of my camp I was forced to give up
the hunt.*

* We found the remains of the Giraffe a few days later.

"About an hour later I hit a tetel with both barrels of the
little Fletcher, at full gallop; but although we followed the
blood-track for sonme distance, we did not recover it. At this
season the grass is in most places from seven to ten feet high,
and being trodden by numerous old tracks of animals, it is
difficult to find a wounded beast without the assistance of a
dog. The luck was against me to-day; I could only shoot well
enough to hit everything, but to bag nothing, owing to a
sleepless night. I killed a guinea-fowl to secure dinner upon my
return, and we at length reached the welcome Atbara within two
miles of my head-quarters. My men made a rush to the river, and
threw themselves into the water, as all were more or less
exhausted by the intense heat of the long day's work after a
restless night. I took a good drink through my gazelle
shank-bone, which I wear suspended from my neck for that purpose,
and I went on alone, leaving my bathing party to refresh
themselves. I reached the tent a little after 4 P.M. after more
than ten hours' continual walking in the burning sun. I felt
almost red hot, but my bath and clean linen being ready, thanks
to the careful preparation of my wife, I was quickly refreshed,
and sat down with a lion's appetite to good curry and rice, and
a cup of black coffee.

"September 25.--Having nothing to eat, I took my fishing-rod and
strolled down to the river, and chose from my aquarium a fish of
about half a pound for a live bait; I dropped this in the river
about twenty yards beyond the mouth of the Till, and allowed it
to swim naturally down the stream so as to pass across the Till
junction, and descend the deep channel between the rocks. For
about ten minutes I had no run; I had twice tried the same water
without success, nothing would admire my charming bait; when,
just as it had reached the favourite turning-point at the
extremity of a rock, away dashed the line, with the tremendous
rush that follows the attack of a heavy fish. Trusting to the
soundness of my tackle, I struck hard and fixed my new
acquaintance thoroughly, but off he dashed down the stream for
about fifty yards at one rush, making for a narrow channel
between two rocks, through which the stream ran like a mill-race.
Should he pass this channel, I knew he would cut the line across
the rock; therefore, giving him the butt, I held him by main
force, and by the great swirl in the water I saw that I was
bringing him to the surface; but just as I expected to see him,
my float having already appeared, away he darted in another
direction, taking sixty or seventy yards of line without a check.
I at once observed that he must pass a shallow sandbank
favourable for landing a heavy fish; I therefore checked him as
he reached this spot, and I followed him down the bank, reeling
up line as I ran parallel with his course. Now came the tug of
war! I knew my hooks were good and the line sound, therefore I
was determined not to let him escape beyond the favourable
ground; and I put a strain upon him, that after much struggling
brought to the surface a great shovel-head, followed by a pair of
broad silvery sides, as I led him gradualhy into shallow water.
Bacheet now cleverly secured him by the gills, and dragged him in
triumph to the shore. This was a splendid bayard, at least forty
pounds' weight.

"I laid my prize upon some green reeds, and covered it carefully
with the same cool material. I then replaced my bait by a lively
fish, and once more tried the river. In a very short time I had
another run, and landed a small fish of about nine pounds of the
same species. Not wishing to catch fish of that size, I put on a
large bait, and threw it about forty yards into the river, well
up the stream, and allowed the float to sweep the water in a half
circle, thus taking the chance of different distances from the
shore. For about half an hour nothing moved; I was just preparing
to alter my position, when out rushed my line, and striking hard,
I believed I fixed the old gentleman himself, for I had no
control over him whatever; holding him was out of the question;
the line flew through my hands, cutting them till the blood
flowed, and I was obliged to let the fish take his own way: this
he did for about eighty yards, when he suddenly stopped. This
unexpected halt was a great calamity, for the reel overran
itself, having no check-wheel, and the slack bends of the line
caught the handle just as he again rushed forward, and with a
jerk that nearly pulled the rod from my hands he was gone! I
found one of my large hooks broken short off; the confounded
reel! The fish was a monster!

"After this bad luck I had no run until the evening, when putting
on a large bait, and fishing at the tail of a rock between the
stream and still water, I once more had a grand rush, and hooked
a big one. There were no rocks down stream, all was fair play and
clear water, and away he went at racing pace straight for the
middle of the river. To check the pace, I grasped the line with
the stuff of my loose trousers, and pressed it between my fingers
so as to act as a break, and compel him to labour for every yard;
but he pulled like a horse, and nearly cut through the thick
cotton cloth, making straight running for at least a hundred
yards without a halt. I now put so severe a strain upon him, that
my strong bamboo bent nearly double, and the fish presently so
far yielded to the pressure, that I could enforce his running in
half circles instead of straight away. I kept gaining line, until
I at length led him into a shallow bay, and after a great fight,
Bacheet embraced him by falling upon him, and clutching the
monster with hands and knees; he then tugged to the shore a
magnificent fish of upwards of sixty pounds. For about twenty
minutes he had fought against such a strain as I had never before
used upon a fish, but I had now adopted hooks of such a large
size and thickness that it was hardly possible for them to break,
unless snapped by a crocodile. My reel was so loosened from the
rod, that had the struggle lasted a few minutes longer I must
have been vanquished. This fish measured three feet eight inches
to the root of the tail, and two feet three inches in girth of
shoulders; the head measured one foot ten inches in
circumference--it was the same species as those I had already

"This closed the sport for the day. We called all hands to carry
the fish to camp, and hoisted the flag, which was quickly
followed by the arrival of a number of men from Sofi, to receive
all that we could spare. The largest fish we cut into thin
strips,--these we salted and dried; the head made delicious soup,
with a teaspoonful of curry-powder.

"September 26.--The weather is now intensely hot, and the short
spear grass is drying so rapidly that in some stony places it can
be fired. The birds appear to build their nests at various
seasons. Many that built three months ago are again at work;
among others is a species of black Mina, that takes entire
possession of a tree, which it completely covers with nests
coarsely constructed of sticks. A few days ago I found several
trees converted into colonies of many hundred dwellings.

"I never allow either the monkeys or baboons to be disturbed:
thus they have no fear of our party, but with perfect confidence
they approach within thirty or forty yards of the tents, sitting
upon the rocks and trees, and curiously watching all that takes
place in the camp. I have only seen one species of monkey in this
neighbourhood--a handsome dark grey animal with white whiskers.
The baboons are also of one species, the great dog-faced ape
(Cynocephalus); these grow to a very large size, and old Masara
fully expects to be carried off and become the wife of an old
baboon, if they are allowed to become so bold.

"This afternoon I took a stroll with the rifle, but saw nothing
except a young crocodile about six feet long; this was on the dry
summit of a hill, far from water. I shot it and took the skin. I
can only conclude that the small stream in which he had wandered
from the river-bed had become dry, and the creature had lost its
way in searching for other water.

"September 27.--I started from the tent at 6 A.M. and made a
circuit of about eighteen miles, seeing nothing but tetel and
gazelles, but I had no luck. Hot and disgusted, I returned home,
and took the rod, hoping for better luck in the river. I hooked,
but lost, a small fish, and I began to think that the fates were
against me by land and water, when I suddenly had a tremendous
run, and about a hundred and fifty yards rushed off the reel
without the possibility of stopping the fish. The river was very
low; thus I followed along the bank, holding hard, and after
about half an hour of difference of opinion, the fish began to
show itself, and I coaxed it into the shallows; here it was
cleverly managed by Bacheet, who lugged it out by the tail. It
was an ugly monster, of about fifty pounds, a species of silurus,
known by the Arabs as the 'coor;' it differed from the silurus of
Europe by haviimg a dorsal fin, like a fringe, that extended
along the back to the tail. This fish had lungs resembling
delicate branches of red coral, and, if kept moist, it would
exist upon the land for many hours like an eel. It smelt strongly
of musk, but it was gladly accepted by the Sheik of Sofi, who
immediately answered to the flag.

"While shooting this morning I came suddenly upon a small species
of leopard that had just killed a snake about five feet in
length; the head was neatly bitten off and lay upon the ground
near the body; the animal was commencing a meal off the snake
when it was disturbed, and I lost sight of it immediately in the
high grass.

"September 28.--The heat is most oppressive: even the nights are
hot, until about 2 A.M., at which hour a cool breeze springs up.
The wind now blows from the south until about 1 P.M., when it
changes suddenly to the north, and then varies between these two
points during the rest of the day; this leads me to hope that the
north wind will shortly set in. September, as in England, is the
autumn of this land; the wild fruits are ripe, some of which are
not unpleasant, but they are generally too sweet,--they lack the
acidity that would be agreeable in this burning climate. There is
an orange-coloured berry that has a pleasant flavour, but it is
extremely oily; this has a peculiarly disagreeable effect upon
the system, if eaten in any quantity. Several varieties of
excellent wild vegetables grow in great abundance throughout this
country: beans, three kinds of spinach; the juicy, brittle plant
cultivated in Lower Egypt, and known as the 'regle;' and lastly,
that main-stay of Arab cookery, 'waker,' well known in Ceylon and
India under the names of 'Barmian' and 'Bandikai.' This grows to
the height of thirteen or fourteen feet in the rich soil of the
table lands: the Arabs gather the pods and cut them into thin
slices; these are dried in the sun, and then packed in large
sacks for market. The harvest of waker is most important, as no
Arab dish would be perfect without the admixture of this
agreeable vegetable. The dried waker is ground into powder
between two stones; this, if boiled with a little gravy, produces
a gelatinous and highly-flavoured soup.

"September 29.--We have just heard that Atalan Wat Said, by whom
we were so well received, is dead! The Arabs have a disagreeable
custom of paying honours to a guest by keeping the anniversary of
the death of any relatives whose decease should be known to them;
thus, when Atalan Wat Said paid a visit to Sheik Achmet Abou
Sinn, the latter celebrated with much pomp the anniversary of his
(Atalan's) late father's death. The unfortunate guest, who
happened to arrive in Abou Sinn's camp upon the exact day upon
which his father had died in the precedimig year, was met by a
mourning crowd, with the beating of drums, the howling of women,
and the loud weeping and sorrowful condoling of the men. This
scene affected Atalan Wat Said to such a degree, that, being
rather unwell, he immediately sickened with fever, and died in
three days. In this country any grief of mind will insure an
attack of fever, when all are more or less predisposed during the
unhealthy season, from the commencement of July until the end of

"This afternoon I took the rod, and having caught a beautiful
silver-sided fish of about a pound weight, I placed it upon a
large single hook fastened under the back fin. In about an hour
I had a run, but upon striking, I pulled the bait out of the
fish's mouth, as the point of the hook had not touched the jaw.
I had wound up slowly for about thirty yards, hoping that the big
fellow would follow his lost prize, as I knew him to be a large
fish by his attack upon a bait of a pound weight. I found my bait
was killed, but having readjusted the hook, I again cast it in
the same direction, and slowly played it towards me. I had him!
He took it immediately, and I determined to allow him to swallow
it before I should strike. Without a halt, about a hundred yards
of line were taken at the first rush towards the middle of the
river; he then stopped, and I waited for about a minute, and then
fixed him with a jerk that bent my bamboo like a fly-rod. To this
he replied by a splendid challenge; in one jump he flew about six
feet above the water, and showed himself to be one of the most
beautiful fish I had ever seen; not one of those nondescript
antediluvian brutes that you expect to catch in these
extraordinary rivers, but in colour he appeared like a clean run
salmon. He gave tremendous play, several times leaping out of the
water, and shaking his head furiously to free himself from the
hook; then darting away with eighty or a hundred yards of fresh
line, until he at last was forced to yield to the strong and
elastic bamboo, and his deep body stranded upon the fatal

"Bacheet was a charming lad to land a fish: he was always quiet
and thoughtful, and never got in the way of the line; this time
he closely approached him from behind, slipped both his hands
along his side, and hooked his fingers into the broad gills; thus
he dragged him, splashing through the shallows, to the sandbank.
What a beauty! What was he? The colour was that of a salmon, and
the scales were not larger in proportion: he was about fifty
pounds' weight. The back fin resembled that of a perch, with
seven rays; the second, dorsal fin towards the tail had fourteen
rays; the head was well shaped, and small in proportion; the eyes
were bright red, and shone like rubies; and the teeth were very
small. I cut away my line, as the hook was deeply swallowed; and
after having washed this beautiful fish, I assisted Bacheet to
carry it to the camp, where it was laid upon a clean mat at the
tent-door for admiration. This species of fish is considered by
the Arabs to be the best in the river; it is therefore called 'El
Baggar' (the cow). It is a species of perch, and we found it
excellent--quite equal to a fine trout. I made an exact sketch of
it on the spot, after which the greater portion was cut up and
salted; it was then smoked for about four hours. The latter
process is necessary to prevent the flies from blowing it, before
it becomes sufficiently dry to resist their attacks.

"For several days I passed my time in fishing, with the varying
success that must attend all fishermen. Upon the extreme verge of
the river's bank were dense bushes of the nabbuk, about fifteen
feet high, but so thickly massed with green foliage that I cut
out a tunnel with my hunting-knife, and completed a capacious
arbour, thoroughly protected from the sun. In this it was far
more agreeable to pass the day than at the camp; accordingly we
arranged the ground with mats and carpets, and my wife converted
the thorny bower into an African drawing-room, where she could
sit with her work and enjoy the view of the river at her feet,
and moreover watch the fishing."



I WILL not follow the dates of the journal consecutively, but
merely pounce from time to time upon such passages as will
complete the description of our life at Ehetilla.

"October 4.--I went out fishing in the usual place, where the
Till joins the Atbara; the little stream has disappeared, and the
bed is now perfectly dry, but there are many large rocks and
sandbanks in the river, which are excellent places for heavy
fish. I had only three runs, but I landed them all. The first was
a beautiful baggar about forty pounds, from which time a long
interval elapsed before I had another. I placed a bait of about
a pound upon my treble hook, and this being a fine lively fellow,
was likely to entice a monster. I was kept waiting for a
considerable time, but at last he came with the usual tremendous
rush. I gave him about fifty yards of line before I fixed him,
and the struggle then commenced, as usual with the baggar, by his
springing out of the water, and showing his superb form and size.
This was a magnificent fish, and his strength was so great, that
in his violent rushes he would take sixty or seventy yards of
line without my permission. I could not check him, as the line
burnt and cut my fingers to such a degree that I was forced to
let it go, and my only way of working him was to project the butt
of the rod in the usual manner; this was a very feeble break upon
the rush of such a fish. At last, after about half an hour of
alternate bullying and coaxing, I got him into the shallows, and
Bacheet attempted to manage him; this time he required the
assistance of Wat Gamma, who quickly ran down from the camp, and
after much struggling, an enormous baggar of between seventy and
eighty pounds was hauled to the shore by the two delighted Arabs.

"I never enjoyed the landing of a fish more than on the present
occasion, and I immediately had the flag hoisted for a signal,
and sent the largest that I had just caught as a present to
Florian and his people. The two fish as they lay upon the green
reeds, glittering in silvery scales, were a sight to gladden the
eyes of a fisherman, as their joint weight was above one hundred
and twenty pounds. I caught another fish in the evening something
over twenty pounds, an ugly and useful creature, the coor, that
I despised, although it is a determined enemy while in play.

"October 10.--Set fire to the low spear grass of the valley. The
river is now very low, exposing in many places large beds of
shingle, and rocks hitherto concealed. The water level is now
about thirty feet below the dried sedges and trash left by the
high floods upon the overhanging boughs. The bed of the Atbara,
and that of the Settite, are composed of rounded pebbles of all
sizes, and masses of iron ore. Large oysters (Etheria),
resembling the pearl oysters of Ceylon, are very numerous, and,
from their internal appearance, with large protuberances of pearl
matter, I should imagine they would most probably yield pearls.

"The wild animals have now deserted this immediate neighbourhood;
the only creatures that are to be seen in numbers are the apes
and monkeys: these throng the sides of the river, eating the
tamarinds from the few large trees, and collecting gum from the
mimosas. These hungry animals gather the tamarinds before they
ripen, and I fear they will not leave a handful for us; nothing
is more agreeable in this hot climate than the acidity of
tamarind water. I remarked a few days ago, when walking along the
dry sandy bed of the Till about five miles from the river, that
the monkeys had been digging wells in the sand for water.

"Many changes are now taking place in the arrival and departure
of various birds according to their migrations; immense numbers
of buzzards and hawks have arrived, and keep my fowls in
perpetual alarm. Ducks fly in large flocks up stream invariably,
every day; storks of different kinds are arriving. Among the new
comers is a beautiful little bird, in size and shape like a
canary, but of a deep bluish black, with an ivory white bill and
yellow lips. The beasts of prey are hungry, as the game has
become scarce:--there is no safety for tame animals, and our
goats will not feed, as they are constantly on the look-out for
danger, starting at the least sound in the bushes, and running to
the tents for security: thus their supply of milk is much

"The Sheik of Sofi, Hassan bel Kader, swam across the river with
a present of fowls; these he had tied upon his head to prevent
them from drowning. This man is a celebrated hippopotamus hunter,
and I look forward to accompanying him upon a harpooning
expedition, when the river is lower. His father was killed by a
bull hippo that he had harpooned; the infuriated animal caught
the unfortunate hunter in his jaws, and with one nip
disembowelled him before his son's eyes. Accidents are constantly
occurring in this dangerous sport, as the hunters are so
continually in the water that they are exposed, like baits, to
the attacks of crocodiles. During the last season one of the
sheik's party was killed; several men were swimming the river,
supported by inflated skins, when one was suddenly seized by a
crocodile. Retaining his hold upon the support, his comrades had
time to clutch him by the hair, and beneath the arms; thus the
crocodile could not drag the buoyant skins beneath the surface.
Once he was dragged from their grasp, but holding to his inflated
skin, he regained the surface, and was again supported by his
friends, who clung to him, while he implored them to hold him
tight, as the crocodile still held him by the leg. In this way
the hunters assisted him; at the same time they struck downwards
with their spears at the determined brute, until they at last
drove it from its hold. Upon gaining the shore, they found that
the flesh of the leg from the knee downwards had been stripped
from the bone, and the poor fellow shortly died.

"October 11.--The Arabs have murdered one of the Egyptian
soldiers, about five miles from Sofi. All my people are more or
less ill, but we, thank Heaven, are in excellent health; in fact,
I have never been better than in this country, although I am
constantly in hard exercise in the burning sun.

"October 15.--A fine breeze, therefore I set fire to the grass in
all directions, which spread into a blaze over many miles of
country. The fire immediately attracts great numbers of
fly-catchers and buzzards; these hover in the smoke to catch the
locusts and other insects that escape from the heat. Buzzards are
so exceedingly bold, that it is one person's special duty to
protect the strips of flesh when an animal is being cut up, at
which time many scores collect, and swoop down upon their prey
clutching a piece of meat with their claws, if left unguarded for
a moment. Upon one occasion, the cook had just cleaned a fish of
about a pound and a half weight, which he laid upon the ground
while he stooped to blow the fire; in an instant a large buzzard
darted upon it, and carried it off.

"Africa may have some charms, but it certainly is rather a trying
country; in the rainy weather we have the impenetrable high
grass, the flies, and the mud; when those entertainments are
over, and the grass has ripened, every variety of herb and bush
is more or less armed with lances, swords, daggers, bayonets,
knives, spikes, needles, pins, fish-hooks, hay-forks, harpoons,
and every abomination in the shape of points which render a
leather suit indispensable to a sportsman, even in this hot
climate. My knickerbockers are made of the coarse but strong Arab
cotton cloth, that I have dyed brown with the fruit of the Acacia
Arabica; but after a walk of a few minutes, I am one mass of
horrible points from the spear grass, for about a foot from the
upper part of my gaiters; the barbed points having penetrated,
break off, and my trousers are as comfortable as a hedgehog's
skin turned inside out, with the 'woolly side in.'

"I long for the time when the entire country will be dry enough
to burn, when fire will make a clean sweep of these nuisances.

"October 17.--The sheik and several Arabs went to the Settite to
sow tobacco; they simply cast the seed upon the sandy loam left
by the receding river, without even scratching the soil; it is
thus left to take its chance. I accompanied him to the Settite,
and came upon the tracks of a herd of about fifty elephants that
had crossed the river a few days previous. As we were walking
through the high grass we came upon a fine boa-constrictor
(python), and not wishing to fire, as I thought I might disturb
elephants in the neighbourhood, I made a cut at it with my heavy
hunting-knife, nearly severing about four feet from the tail, but
it escaped in the high grass.

"October 18.--A lion paid us a visit last night, roaring close to
the tent at intervals, frightening Mahomet out of his wits.

"The seroot fly has entirely disappeared, and immense dragon
flies are now arrived, and are greedily attacking all other
flying insects.

"October 19.--Troops of baboons are now exceedingly numerous, as
the country being entirely dried up, they are forced to the river
for water, and the shady banks covered with berry-bearing shrubs
induce them to remain. It is very amusing to watch these great
male baboons stalking majestically along, followed by a large
herd of all ages, the mothers carrying their little ones upon
their backs, the latter with a regular jockey-seat riding most
comfortably, while at other times they relieve the monotony of
the position by sprawling at full length and holding on by their
mother's back hair. Suddenly a sharp-eyed young ape discovers a
bush well covered with berries, and his greedy munching being
quickly observed, a general rush of youngsters takes place, and
much squabbling for the best places ensues among the boys; this
ends in great uproar when down comes a great male, who cuffs one,
pulls another by the hair, bites another on the hind quarters
just as he thinks he has escaped, drags back a would-be deserter
by his tail and shakes him thoroughly, and thus he shortly
restores order, preventing all further disputes by sitting under
the bush and quietly enjoying the berries by himself. These
baboons have a great variety of expressions that may perhaps
represent their vocabulary: a few of these I begin to understand,
such as their notes of alarm, and the cry to attract attention;
thus, when I am sitting alone beneath the shade of a tree to
watch their habits, they are at first not quite certain what kind
of a creature I may be, and they give a peculiar cry to induce me
to move and show myself more distinctly.

"October 20.--A lion was roaring throughout the night not far
from the tent on his way towards the river to drink; at every
roar he was answered by the deep angry cry of the baboons, who
challenged him immediately from their secure positions on the
high rocks and trees. I found the tracks of his large feet upon
the bank of the river, but there is no possibility of finding
these animals in the daytime, as they retire to the high grass
upon the table lands.

"The banks of the Atbara are now swarming with small birds that
throng the bushes (a species of willow), growing by the water's
edge; the weight of a large flock bends down the slender boughs
until they touch the water: this is their opportunity for
drinking, as their beaks for an instant kiss the stream. These
unfortunate little birds get no rest, the large fish and the
crocodiles grab at them when they attempt to drink, while the
falcons and hawks pursue them at all times and in every
direction. Nothing is fat, as nothing can obtain rest, the
innumerable birds and beasts of prey give no peace to the weaker
kinds; the fattest alderman of the city of London would become a
skeleton, if hunted for two hours daily by a hyaena.

"October 23.--This evening I took a walk, accompanied by my wife,
and Bacheet with a spare gun, to try for a shot at guinea-fowl.
We were strolling along the margin of the river, when we heard a
great shrieking of women on the opposite side, in the spot from
which the people of Sofi fetch their water. About a dozen women
had been filling their water-skins, when suddenly they were
attacked by a large crocodile, who attempted to seize a woman,
but she, springing back, avoided it, and the animal swallowed her
girba (water-skin), that, being full of water and of a brown
exterior, resembled the body of a woman. The women rushed out of
the river, when the crocodile made a second dash at them, and
seized another water-skin that a woman had dropped in her flight.
They believe this to be the same monster that took a woman a few
months ago. Few creatures are so sly and wary as the crocodile.
I watch them continually as they attack the dense flocks of small
birds that throng the bushes at the water's edge. These birds are
perfectly aware of the danger, and they fly from the attack, if
possible. The crocodile then quietly and innocently lies upon the
surface, as though it had appeared quite by an accident; it thus
attracts the attention of the birds, and it slowly sails away to
a considerable distance, exposed to their view. The birds, thus
beguiled by the deceiver, believe that the danger is removed, and
they again flock to the bush, and once more dip their thirsty
beaks into the stream. Thus absorbed in slaking their thirst,
they do not observe that their enemy is no longer on the surface.
A sudden splash, followed by a huge pair of jaws beneath the bush
that engulfs some dozens of victims, is the signal unexpectedly
given of the crocodile's return, who has thus slyly dived, and
hastened under cover of water to his victims. I have seen the
crocodiles repeat this manoeuvre constantly; they deceive by a
feigned retreat, and then attack from below.

"In like manner the crocodile perceives, while it is floating on
the surface in mid-stream, or from the opposite side of the
river, a woman filling her girba, or an animal drinking, &c. &c.
Sinking immediately, it swims perhaps a hundred yards nearer, and
again appearing for an instant upon the surface, it assures
itself of the position of its prey by a stealthy look; once more
it sinks, and reaches the exact spot above which the person or
animal may be. Seeing distinctly through the water, it generally
makes its fatal rush from beneath--sometimes seizing with its
jaws, and at other times striking the object into the water with
its tail, after which it is seized and carried off.

"The crocodile does not attempt to swallow a large prey at once,
but generally carries it away and keeps it for a considerable
time in its jaws in some deep hole beneath a rock, or the root of
a tree, where it eats it at leisure. The tongue of the crocodile
is so unlike that of any other creature that it can hardly be
called by the same name; no portion throughout the entire length
is detached from the flesh of the lower jaw--it is more like a
thickened membrane from the gullet to about half way along the
length of jaw.

"October 4.--Having burnt off a large surface of high grass, I
discovered a quantity of gourds and wild cucumbers--the latter
are bright crimson, covered with long fleshy prickles, with black
horny tips; these are eaten by the baboons, but not by the Arabs.
The gourds are only serviceable for cups and ladles manufactured
from their shells.

"I find a good pair of Highland shooting shoes of great value;
the soles were exceedingly thick, and they have resisted, until
now, the intensely hard and coarse-grained sandstone which grinds
through all leather. My soles are at length worn out, and I have
repaired them with the tanned hide of giraffe. Much of the
sandstone is white and soft and friable; but this appears to have
been decomposed by time and exposure, as the generality is hard
and would make excellent grindstones.

"October 25.--Three elephant-hunters arrived to-day with horses
for sale. I purchased three--a bay and two greys. They are all of
Abyssinian breed, and are handsome animals, although none exceed
fourteen hands and a half. The prices were high for this part of
the world where dollars are scarce; but to me, they appeared to
be absurdly cheap. The bay horse was a regular strong-built cob;
for him I paid nineteen dollars--about 4l. including a native
saddle and bridle; for the greys, I paid fifteen and thirteen
dollars, saddles and bridles also included. The bay I named Tetel
(hartebeest), the greys Aggahr* and Gazelle. Tetel was a trained
hunter, as was Aggahr likewise. Gazelle was quite inexperienced,
but remarkably handsome. None of these horses had ever been shod,
but their hoofs were beautifully shaped, and as hard as ivory.
The saddles had no stuffing on the seats, but were simple wooden
frames, with high backs and pommels, the various pieces being
sewn together with raw hide, and the front and back covered with
crocodile skin. The stirrups were simple iron rings, sufficiently
large to admit the great toe of the rider, according to Arab
fashion in these parts. The bits were dreadfully severe; but
perhaps not unnecessarily, as the sword allows only one
bridle-hand to a pulling horse. Each horse was furnished with a
leathern nose-bag, and a long leathern thong as a picket strap.
All these horses and saddlery I had purchased for forty-seven
dollars, or 9l. 1Os. Fortunately, both my wife and I were well
provided with the best English saddles, bridles, &c. or the 'big
toe' stirrup would have been an awkward necessity.

* Aggahr is the designation of a hunter with the sword.

"October 26.--We left our camp this morning for a few days'
reconnaissance of the country, accompanied by Florian, prior to
commencing our regular expedition. Nine miles S.E. of Ehetilla we
passed through a village called Wat el Negur, after which we
continued along a great tract of table land, on the eastern side
of the Atbara valley, bounded by a mimosa forest about four miles
on the east. Very large quantities of dhurra (Sorghum vulgare)
are grown upon this fertile soil; it is now higher than a man's
head when mounted upon a camel. Far as the eye can reach, the
great table lands extend on either side the broad valley of the
Atbara. The cotton that was planted many years ago by the
inhabitants who have vanished, still flourishes, although choked
with grass six or seven feet high. At 4 P.M. we reached a large
village, Sherif el Ibrahim, twenty-eight miles S.E. from Sofi by
the route upon the east bank of the Atbara, which cuts off a bend
in the river. A species of dhurra, as sweet as the sugar-cane,
grows here in abundance, being regularly sown and cultivated; it
is called ankoleep. This is generally chewed in the mouth as a
cane; but it is also peeled by the women, and, when dried, it is
boiled with milk to give it sweetness. A grain called dochan, a
species of millet, is likewise cultivated to a considerable
extent; when ripe, it somewhat resembles the head of the bulrush.
The whole of this country would grow cotton and sugar to

"October 28.--Having slept at the village, we went to the river,
and Florian shot a hippopotamus. The natives, having skinned it,
rushed at the carcase with knives and axes, and fought over it
like a pack of wolves; neither did they leave the spot until they
had severed each bone, and walked off with every morsel, of this
immense beast.

"October 31.--Having passed a couple of days at Sherif el
Ibrahim, we started for the Settite. When about half way, we
arrived at a curious plateau of granite rock, with a pool of
water in the centre. Formerly a large village occupied this
position, named Gerrarat; but it was destroyed in a raid by the
Egyptians, as being one of Mek Nimmur's strongholds. The rock is
a flat surface of about five acres, covered with large detached
fragments of granite; near this are several pools of water, which
form the source of the rivulet, the Till, that bounds our camp at
Ehetilla. A large homera-tree (Adansonia digitata) grows among
the blocks of granite by the pool; in the shade of its enormous
boughs we breakfasted, and again started at 4 P.M. reaching the
Settite river at 7.3O, at a spot named Geera. In the dark we had
some difficulty in finding our way down the rugged slopes of the
valley to the river. We had not taken beds, as these incumbrances
were unnecessary when in light marching order. We therefore made
separate bivouacs, Florian and his people about a hundred yards
distant, while a rug laid upon the ground was sufficient for my
wife. I made myself comfortable in a similar manner. Lions were
roaring all night.

"On the following morning we took a long stroll along the wild
and rugged valley of the Settite, that was precisely similar to
that of the Atbara. The river, although low, was a noble stream,
and the water was at this season beautifully clear as it ran over
a bed of clean pebbles. The pass between the cliffs of Geera was
exceedingly lovely. At that point the river did not exceed 200
yards in width, and it flowed through abrupt cliffs of beautiful
rose-coloured limestone; so fine and pure was the surface of the
stone, that in places it resembled artificially-smoothed marble;
in other places, the cliffs, equally abrupt, were of milk-white
limestone of similar quality. This was the first spot in which I
had found limestone since I had left Lower Egypt. The name
'Geera,' in Arabic, signifies lime. Formerly this was an
important village belonging to Mek Nimmur, but it had been
destroyed by the Egyptians, and the renowned Mek Nimmur was
obliged to fall back to the strongholds of the mountains.

"I started off a man to recall Mahomet and my entire camp fronm
Ehetilla to Wat el Negur, as that village was only seven hours'
march from Geera; the three points, Sherif el Ibrahim, Geera, and
Wat el Negur formed almost an equilateral triangle. We reached
the latter village on the following day, and found that Mahomet
and a string of camels from Sofi had already arrived. The country
was now thickly populated on the west bank of the Atbara, as the
Arabs and their flocks had returned after the disappearance of
the seroot fly. Mahomet had had an accident, having fallen from
his camel and broken no bones, but he had smashed the stock of my
single-barrel rifle; this was in two pieces; I mended it, and it
become stronger than ever. The wood had broken short off in the
neck of the stock, I therefore bored a hole about three inches
deep up the centre of either piece, so that it was hollowed like
a marrow-bone; in one of them I inserted a piece of an iron
ramrod, red-hot, I then drew the other piece over the iron in a
similar manner, and gently tapped the shoulder-plate until I had
driven the broken joint firmly together. I then took off from a
couple of old boxes two strong brass hasps; these I let neatly
into the wood on each side of the broken stock, and secured them
by screws, filing off all projections, so that they fitted
exactly. I finished the work by stretching a piece of well-soaked
crocodile's skin over the joint, which, when drawn tight, I sewed
strongly together. When this dried it became as hard as horn, and
very much stronger; the extreme contraction held the work
together like a vice, and my rifle was perfectly restored. A
traveller in wild countries should always preserve sundry
treasures that will become invaluable, such as strips of
crocodile skin, the hide of the iguana, &c. which should be kept
in the tool-box for cases of need. The tool-box should not exceed
two feet six inches in length, and one foot in depth, but it
should contain the very best implements that can be made, with an
extra supply of gimlets, awls, centre-bits, and borers of every
description, also tools for boring iron; at least two dozen files
of different sorts should be included."

Wat el Negur was governed by a most excellent and polite sheik of
the Jalyn tribe. Sheik Achmet Wat el Negur was his name and
title; being of the same race as Mek Nimmur, he dared to occupy
the east bank of the Atbara. Sheik Achmet was a wise man; he was
a friend of the Egyptian authorities, to whom he paid tribute as
though it were his greatest pleasure; he also paid tribute to Mek
Nimmur, with whom he was upon the best of terms; therefore, in
the constant fights that took place upon the borders, the cattle
and people of Sheik Achmet were respected by the contending
parties, while those of all others were sufferers. This was
exactly the spot for my head-quarters, as, like Sheik Achmet, I
wished to be on good terms with everybody, and through him I
should be able to obtain an introduction to Mek Nimmur, whom I
particularly wished to visit, as I had heard that there never was
such a brigand. Accordingly, I pitched the tents and formed a
camp upon the bank of the river, about two hundred yards below
the village of Wat el Negur, and in a short time Sheik Achmet and
I became the greatest friends.

There is nothing more delightful when travelling in a strange
country, a thousand miles away from the track of the wildest
tourist, than to come upon the footprint of a countryman; not the
actual mark of his sole upon the sand, which the dust quickly
obscures, but to find imprinted deeply upon the minds and
recollections of the people, the good character of a former
traveller, that insures you a favourable introduction. Many years
before I visited Wat el Negur, Mr. Mansfield Parkyns, who has
certainly written the best book on Abyssinia that I have ever
read, passed through this country, having visited Mek Nimmur, the
father of the present Mek. He was, I believe, the only European
that had ever been in Mek Nimmur's territory, neither had his
footsteps been followed until my arrival. Mr. Parkyns had left
behind him what the Arabs call a "sweet name;" and as I happened
to have his book, "Life in Abyssinia," with me, I showed it to
the sheik as his production, and explained the illustrations,
&c.; at the same time I told him that Mr. Parkyns had described
his visit to Mek Nimmur, of whom he had spoken very highly, and
that I wished to have an opportunity of telling the great chief
in person how much his good reception had been appreciated. The
good Sheik Achmet immediately promised to present me to Mek
Nimmur, and wished particularly to know whether I intended to
write a book like Mr. Parkyns upon my return. Should I do so, he
requested me to mention HIS name. I promised at once to do this
trifling favour; thus I have the greatest pleasure in certifying
that Sheik Achmet Wat el Negur is one of the best and most
agreeable fellows that I have ever met in Africa; he does not
keep an hotel, or I would strongly recommend it to all
travellers, but his welcome is given gratis, with the warmest

The country for several miles upon the table land above Wat el
Negur was highly cultivated, and several thousand acres were
planted with dhurra, that was at this season in full grain, and
nearly ripe. Much sesame was grown for the manufacture of oil;
cotton was also cultivated, and the neighbourhood was a fair
example of the wonderful capabilities of the entire country that
was allowed to lie in idleness. There was little rest for the
inhabitants at this time, as the nights were spent in watching
their extensive plantations, and endeavouring to scare away the
elephants. These animals, with extreme cunning, invaded the
dhurra crops at different positions every night, and retreated
before morning to great distances in the thick thorny jungles of
the Settite.

Our arrival was welcomed with general enthusiasm, as the Arabs
were unprovided with fire-arms, and the celebrated aggageers or
sword-hunters were useless, as the elephants only appeared at
night, and were far too cunning to give them a chance. There was
a particular range of almost impenetrable thorny covert in the
neighbourhood of Geera, well known as the asylum for these
animals, to which they retreated, after having satiated
themselves by a few hours' feeding upon the crops of corn. I
promised to assist in protecting the plantations, although the
Arabs assured me that, in spite of our rifles, the elephants
would return every night.

Wishing to judge personally of the damage, I rode up to the
dhurra-fields, and for a few hours I examined the crops, through
which I could ride with ease, as the plants were arranged like

Many acres were absolutely destroyed, as the elephants had not
only carefully stripped off the heavy heads of corn, but had
trampled down and wilfully broken much more than they had
consumed. The Arabs knew nothing about guns, or their effect upon
elephants, and I felt quite sure that a few nights with the heavy
rifles would very soon scare them from the fields.

I return to my journal.

"November 7.--In the middle of last night I was disturbed by the
Arabs, who begged me to get up and shoot the elephants that were
already in the plantations. This I refused to do, as I will not
fire a shot until they call in their watchers, and leave the
fields quiet. A few nights ago there was a perfect uproar from a
score of watchers, that prevented the elephants from coming at
the very time that the people had induced me to pass the whole
night in the fields. I have arranged that the sheik shall call in
all these watchers, and that they shall accompany me to-morrow
night. I will then post myself in the centre of the plantations,
dividing the men into many parties at all points, to return
quietly to me and report the position that the elephants may have

"This morning I purchased a kid for two piastres (five pence).
The sheik is exceedingly civil, and insists upon sending me daily
supplies of milk and vegetables.

"This afternoon, accompanied by my wife, I accepted an invitation
to shoot a savage old bull hippopotamus that had been
sufficiently impertinent to chase several of the natives. He
lived in a deep and broad portion of the river, about two miles
distant. We accordingly rode to the spot, and found the old hippo
at home. The river was about 250 yards wide at this place, in an
acute bend that had formed a deep pool. In the centre of this was
a mud bank, just below the surface; upon this shallow bed the
hippo was reposing. Upon perceiving us he was exceedingly saucy,
snorting at my party, and behaving himself in a most absurd
manner, by shaking his head and leaping half-way out of the
water. This plunging demonstration was intended to frighten us.
I had previously given Bacheet a pistol, and had ordered him to
follow on the opposite bank from the ford at Wat el Negur. I now
hallooed to him to fire several shots at the hippo, in order to
drive him, if possible, towards me, as I lay in ambush behind a
rock in the bed of the river. Bacheet descended the almost
perpendicular bank to the water's edge, and after having chaffed
the hippo considerably, he fired a shot with the pistol, which
was far more dangerous to us on the opposite side than to the
animal. The hippo, who was a wicked solitary old bull, accustomed
to have his own way, returned the insult by charging towards
Bacheet with a tremendous snorting, that sent him scrambling up
the steep bank in a panic, amidst a roar of laughter from the
people on my side concealed in the bushes. In this peal of
merriment I thought I could distinguish a voice closely
resembling that of my wife. However, Bacheet, who had always
longed to be brought face to face with some foe worthy of his
steel, had bolted, and he now stood safe in his elevated position
on the top of the bank, thirty feet above the river, and fired
the second barrel in bold defiance at the hippopotamus.

"As the hippo had gained confidence, I showed myself above the
rock, and called to him, according to Arab custom, 'Hasinth!
Hasinth!'* He, thinking no doubt that he might as well hunt me
away, gave a loud snort, sank, and quickly reappeared about a
hundred yards from me; but nearer than this he positively refused
to approach. I therefore called to Bacheet to shout from the
other side to attract his attention, and as he turned his head,
I took a steady shot behind the ear with the little Fletcher
rifle. This happened to be one of those fortunate shots that
consoles you for many misses, and the saucy old hippo turned upon
his back and rolled about in tremendous struggles, lashing the
still and deep pool into waves, until he at length disappeared.
We knew that he was settled; thus my people started off towards
the village, and in a marvellousiy short time a frantic crowd of
Arabs arrived with camels, ropes, axes, knives, and everything
necessary for an onslaught upon the hippo, who, up to this time,
had not appeared upon the surface. In about an hour and a half
from the time he received the bullet, we discovered his carcase
floating about two hundred yards lower down the river. Several
heads of large crocodiles appeared and vanished suddenly within
a few feet of the floating carcase, therefore the Arabs
considered it prudent to wait until the stream should strand the
body upon the pebbly shallows about half a mile below the pool.
Upon arrival at that point, there was a general rush, and the
excited crowd secured the hippo by many ropes, and hauled it to
the shore. It was a very fine bull, as the skin without the head
measured twelve feet three inches. I had two haunches kept for
the sheik, and a large quantity of fat, which is highly and
deservedly prized by the Arabs, as it is the most delicate of any
animal. Those portions secured, with a reserve of meat for
ourselves, the usual disgusting scene of violence commenced, the
crowd falling upon the carcase like maddened hyaenas.

* Hasinth is the Arabic for hippopotamus.

"In the evening I resolved to watch the dhurra fields for
elephants. At about 9 P.M. I arrived in the plantations, with
three men carrying spare guns, among whom was Bacheet, who had at
length an opportunity for which he had long yearned. I entrusted
to him the 'Baby,' which he promised to put into my hands the
very moment that I should fire my second barrel. I carried my own
Ceylon No. 10, made by Beattie. We had not been half an hour in
the dhurra fields before we met a couple of Arab watchers, who
informed us that a herd of elephants was already in the
plantation; we accordingly followed our guides. In about a
quarter of an hour we distinctly heard the cracking of the dhurra
stems, as the elephants browsed, and trampled them beneath their

"Taking the proper position of the wind, I led our party
cautiously in the direction of the sound, and in about five
minutes I came in view of the slate-coloured and dusky forms of
the herd. The moon was bright, and I counted nine elephants; they
had trampled a space of about fifty yards square into a barren
level, and they were now slowly moving forward, feeding as they
went. One elephant, unfortunately, was separated from the herd,
and was about forty yards in the rear; this fellow I was afraid
would render our approach difficult. Cautioning my men,
especially Bacheet, to keep close to me with the spare rifles, I
crept along the alleys formed by the tall rows of dhurra, and
after carefully stalking against the wind, I felt sure that it
would be necessary to kill the single elephant before I should be
able to attack the herd. Accordingly, I crept nearer and nearer,
well concealed in the favourable crop of high and sheltering
stems, until I was within fifteen yards of the hindmost animal.
As I had never shot one of the African species, I was determined
to follow the Ceylon plan, and get as near as possible; therefore
I continued to creep from row to row of dhurra, until I at length
stood at the very tail of the elephant in the next row. I could
easily have touched it with my rifle, but just at this moment, it
either obtained my wind, or it heard the rustle of the men. It
quickly turned its head half round towards me; in the same
instant I took the temple shot, and, by the flash of the rifle,
I saw that it fell. Jumping forward past the huge body, I fired
the left-hand barrel at an elephant that had advanced from the
herd; it fell immediately! Now came the moment for a grand rush,
as they stumbled in confusion over the last fallen elephant, and
jammed together in a dense mass with their immense ears
outspread, forming a picture of intense astonishment! Where were
my spare guns? Here was a grand opportunity to run in and floor
them right and left!

"Not a man was in sight, everybody had bolted! and I stood in
advance of the dead elephant calling for my guns in vain. At
length one of my fellows came up, but it was too late, the fallen
elephant in the herd had risen from the ground, and they had all
hustled off at a great pace, and were gone; I had only bagged one
elephant. Where was the valiant Bacheet? the would-be Nimrod, who
for the last three months had been fretting in inactivity, and
longing for the moment of action, when he had promised to be my
trusty gun-bearer! He was the last man to appear, and he only
ventured from his hiding-place in the high dhurra when assured of
the elephants' retreat. I was obliged to admonish the whole party
by a little physical treatment, and the gallant Bacheet returned
with us to the village, crestfallen and completely subdued. On
the following day not a vestige remained of the elephant, except
the offal: the Arabs had not only cut off the flesh, but they had
hacked the skull and the bones in pieces, and carried them off to
boil down for soup."



Two months had elapsed since the last drop of rain had closed the
wet season. It was 15th November, and the river had fallen to so
low an ebb that the stream was reduced to a breadth of about
eighty yards of bright and clear water, rushing in places with
great rapidity through the centre of its broad and stony bed,
while in sudden bends of the channel it widened into still, and
exceedingly deep pools. We were encamped exactly upon the verge
of a perpendicular cliff, from which there was a rugged path to
the dry channel some thirty feet below, which shelved rapidly
towards the centre occupied by the stream. In this spot were
powerful rapids, above which to our left was a ford, at this time
about waist-deep, upon a bed of rock that divided the lower
rapids from a broad and silent pool above: across this ford the
women of the village daily passed to collect their faggots of
wood from the bushes on the opposite side. I had shot a
crocodile, and a marabou stork, and I was carefully plucking the
plume of beautiful feathers from the tail of the bird, surrounded
by a number of Arabs, when I observed a throng of women, each
laden with a bundle of wood, crossing the ford in single file
from the opposite bank. Among them were two young girls of about
fifteen, and I remarked that these, instead of marching in a line
with the women, were wading hand-in-hand in dangerous proximity
to the head of the rapids. A few seconds later, I noticed that
they were inclining their bodies up stream, and were evidently
struggling with the current. Hardly had I pointed out the danger
to the men around me, when the girls clung to each other, and
striving against their fate they tottered down the stream towards
the rapids, which rushed with such violence that the waves were
about two feet high. With praiseworthy speed the Arabs started to
their feet, and dashed down the deep descent towards the river,
but before they had reached half way, the girls uttered a shriek,
lost their footing, and in another instant they threw their arms
wildly above their heads, and were hurried away in the foam of
the rapids. One disappeared immediately; the other was visible,
as her long black hair floated on the surface; she also sank.
Presently, about twenty yards below the spot, a pair of naked
arms protruded high above the surface, with ivory bracelets upon
the wrists, and twice the hands clapped together as though
imploring help; again she disappeared. The water was by this time
full of men, who had rushed to the rescue; but they had foolishly
jumped in at the spot where they had first seen the girls, who
were of course by this time carried far away by the torrent. Once
more, farther down the river, the hands and bracelets appeared;
again they wildly clapped together, and in the clear water we
could plainly see the dark hair beneath. Still, she sank again;
but almost immediately she rose head and shoulders above the
surface, and thrice she again clapped her hands for aid.

This was her last effort; she disappeared. By the time several
men had wisely run along the bank below the tail of the rapids,
and having formed a line across a very narrow portion of the
stream, one of them suddenly clutched an object beneath the water
and in another moment he held the body of the girl in his arms.
Of course she was dead? or a fit subject for the Royal Humane
Society?--So I supposed; when to our intense astonishment, she no
sooner was brought to the shore than she gave herself a shake,
threw back her long hair, wrung out and arranged her dripping
rahat, and walked leisurely back to the ford, which she crossed
with the assistance of the Arab who had saved her.

What she was composed of I cannot say; whether she was the
offspring of a cross between mermaid and hippopotamus, or hatched
from the egg of a crocodile, I know not, but a more wonderfully
amphibious being I have rarely seen.

During this painful scene, in which one girl had been entirely
lost, the mother of her who was saved had rushed to meet her
child as she landed from the ford; but instead of clasping her to
her heart, as we had expected, she gave her a maternal welcome by
beating her most unmercifully with her fists, bestowing such
lusty blows upon her back that we could distinctly hear them at
a distance of fifty yards; this punishment, we were given to
understand, served her perfectly right, for having been foolish
enough to venture near the rapids. The melancholy death-howl was
now raised by all the women in the village, while the men
explored the river in search of the missing body. On the
following morning the sheik appeared at my tent, with a number of
Arabs who had been unsuccessful, and he begged me, if possible,
to suggest some means for the discovery of the girl, as her
remains should be properly interred.

I proposed that they should procure a log of heavy wood, as near
as possible the size of the girl, and that this should be thrown
into the rapids, in the exact spot where she had disappeared;
this, being nearly the same weight, would be equally acted upon
by the stream, and would form a guide which they should follow
until it should lead them to some deep eddy, or whirlpool formed
by a backwater; should the pilot log remain in such a spot, they
would most probably find the body in the same place. The men
immediately procured a log, and set off with the sheik himself to
carry out the experiment. In the afternoon, we heard a terrible
howling and crying, and a crowd of men and women returned to the
village, some of whom paid us a visit; they had found the body.
The log had guided them about two miles distant, and had remained
stationary in a backwater near where I had shot the bull
hippopotamus; in this still pool, close to the bank, they almost
immediately discovered the girl floating slightly beneath the
surface. No crocodile had injured the body, but the fish had
destroyed a portion of the face; it was already so far advanced
in decomposition, that it was necessary to bury it upon the
margin of the river, at the spot where it was discovered. The
people came to thank me for having originated the idea, and the
very agreeable sheik spent the evening with us with a number of
his people; this was his greatest delight, and we had become
thoroughly accustomed to his daily visits. At such times we sat
upon an angarep, while he sat upon a mat stretched upon the
ground, with a number of his men, who formed a half-circle around
him; he then invariably requested that we would tell him stories
about England. Of these he never tired, and with the assistance
of Mahomet we established a regular entertainment; the great
amusement of the Arabs being the mistakes that they readily
perceived were made by Mahomet as interpreter. We knew sufficient
Arabic to check and to explain his errors.

The death of the girl gave rise to a conversation upon drowning:
this turned upon the subject of the girl herself and ended in a
discussion upon the value of women; the question originating in
a lament on the part of the sheik that a nice young girl had been
drowned instead of a useless old woman. The sheik laid down the
law with great force, "that a woman was of no use when she ceased
to be young, unless she was a good strong person who could grind
corn, and carry water from the river;" in this assertion he was
seconded, and supported unanimously by the crowd of Arabs

Now it was always a common practice among the Arab women, when
they called upon my wife, to request her to show her hands; they
would then feel the soft palms and exclaim in astonishment, "Ah!
she has never ground corn!" that being the duty of a wife unless
she is rich enough to possess slaves. Sheik Achmet requested me
to give him some account of our domestic arrangements in England;
I did this as briefly as possible, explaining how ladies received
our devoted attentions, extolling their beauty and virtue, and in
fact giving him an idea that England was paradise, and that the
ladies were angels. I described the variety of colours; that
instead of all being dark, some were exceedingly fair; that
others had red hair; that we had many bright black eyes, and some
irresistible dark blue; and at the close of my descriptions I
believe the sheik and his party felt disposed to emigrate
immediately to the chilly shores of Great Britain; they asked,
"How far off is your country?" "Well," said the sheik, with a
sigh, "that must be a very charming country; how could you
possibly come away from all your beautiful wives? True, you have
brought one with you: she is, of course, the youngest and most
lovely; perhaps those you have left at home are the OLD ONES!" I
was obliged to explain, that we are contented with one wife, and
that even were people disposed to marry two, or more, they would
be punished with imprisonment. This announcement was received
with a general expression of indignation; the sheik and his
party, who a few minutes ago were disposed to emigrate, and
settle upon our shores, would now at the most have ventured upon
a return ticket. After some murmurs of disapprobation, there was
a decided expression of disbelief in my last statement. "Why,"
said the sheik, "the fact is simply IMPOSSIBLE! How CAN a man be
contented with one wife? It is ridiculous, absurd! What is he to
do when she becomes old? When she is young, if very lovely,
perhaps, he might be satisfied with her, but even the young must
some day grow old, and the beauty must fade. The man does not
fade like the woman; therefore, as he remains the same for many
years, but she changes in a few years, Nature has arranged that
the man shall have young wives to replace the old; does not the
Prophet allow it? Had not our forefathers many wives? and shall
we have but one? Look at yourself. Your wife is young, and" (here
the sheik indulged in compliments), "but in ten years she will
not be the same as now; will you not then let her have a nice
house all to herself, when she grows old, while you take a fresh
young wife?"

I was obliged to explain to the sheik that, first, our ladies
never looked old; secondly, they improved with age; and thirdly,
that we were supposed to love our wives with greater ardour as
they advanced in years. This was received with an ominous shake
of the head, coupled with the exclamation, "Mashallah!" repeated
by the whole party. This was the moment for a few remarks on
polygamy: I continued, "You men are selfish; you expect from the
woman that which you will not give in return, 'constancy and
love;' if your wife demanded a multiplicity of husbands, would it
not be impossible to love her? how can she love you if you insist
upon other wives ?" "Ah!" he replied, "our women are different to
yours, they would not love anybody; look at your wife, she has
travelled with you far away from her own country, and her heart
is stronger than a man's; she is afraid of nothing, because you
are with her; but our women prefer to be far away from their
husbands, and are only happy when they have nothing whatever to
do. You don't understand our women, they are ignorant creatures,
and when their youth is past are good for nothing but to work.
You have explained your customs; your women are adored by the
men, and you are satisfied with one wife, either young or old;
now I will explain our customs. I have four wives; as one has
become old, I have replaced her with a young one; here they all
are" (he now marked four strokes upon the sand with his stick).
"This one carries water; that grinds the corn; this makes the
bread; the last does not do much, as she is the youngest, and my
favourite; and if they neglect their work, they get a taste of
this!" (shaking a long and, tolerably thick stick). "Now, that's
the difference between our establishments; yours is well adapted
for your country, and ours is the best plan for our own."

I would not contradict the sheik; the English greatcoat was not
the garment for the scorching Soudan, and English ideas were
equally unsuited to the climate and requirements of the people.
The girls were utterly ignorant, and the Arabs had never heard of
a woman who could read and write; they were generally pretty when
young, but they rapidly grew old after childbirth. Numbers of
young girls and women were accustomed to bathe perfectly naked in
the river just before our tent; I employed them to catch small
fish for baits and for hours they would amuse themselves in this
way, screaming with excitement and fun, and chasing the small fry
with their long clothes in lieu of nets; their figures were
generally well shaped, but both men and women fell off in the
development of the legs. Very few had well-shaped calves, but
remarkably thin and cleanly formed ankles, with very delicately
shaped feet. The men were constantly bathing in the clear waters
of the Atbara, and were perfectly naked, although close to the
women; we soon became accustomed to this daily scene, as we do at
Brighton and other English bathing-towns.

Our life at Wat el Negur was anything but disagreeable; we had
acquired great fame in several ways: the game that I shot I
divided among the people; they also took an interest in the
fishing, as they generally had a large share of all that I
caught; my wife was very kind to all the children, and to the
women, who came from great distances to see her; and my character
as a physician having been spread far and wide, we became very
celebrated people. Of course I was besieged daily by the maimed,
the halt, and the blind, and the poor people, with much
gratitude, would insist upon bringing fowls and milk in return
for our attention to their wants. These I would never accept, but
on many occasions, upon my refusal, the women would untie the
legs of a bundle of chickens, and allow them to escape in our
camp, rather than be compelled to return with their offering.
Even the fakeers (priests) were our great friends, although we
were Christians, and in my broken Arabic, with the assistance of
Mahomet, I used to touch upon theological subjects. At first they
expressed surprise that such clever people as the English should
worship idols made of wood, or other substances, by the hands of
man. I explained to them their error, as we were Protestants in
England, who had protested against the practice of bowing down
before the figure of Christ or any other form; that we simply
worshipped God through Christ, believing Him to be both Saviour
and Mediator. I recalled to their recollection that Mahomet and
they themselves believed in Christ, as the greatest of all the
prophets, therefore in reality there was not so very wide a gulf
between their creed and our own; both acknowledging the same God;
both believing in Christ, although differing in the degree of
that belief. I allowed that Mahomet was a most wonderful man, and
that, if a cause is to be valued by its effect, he was as much
entitled to the name of prophet as Moses, the first law-giver.
Our arguments never became overheated, as these simple yet
steadfast Arabs, who held the faith of their forefathers
untarnished and uncorrupted by schisms, spoke more with reverence
to the great spirit of religion, than with the acrimony of
debate. "My brothers," I would reply, "we are all God's
creatures, believing in the one great Spirit who created us and
all things, who made this atom of dust that we call our world, a
tiny star amongst the hosts of heaven; and we, differing in
colours and in races, are striving through our short but weary
pilgrimage to the same high point; to the same mountain-top,
where we trust to meet when the journey shall be accomplished.
That mountain is steep, the country is desert; is there but one
path, or are there many? Your path and mine are different, but
with God's help they will lead us to the top. Shall we quarrel
over the well upon the thirsty way? or shall we drink together,
and be thankful for the cool waters, and strive to reach the end?
Drink from my water-skin when upon the desert we thirst together,
scorched by the same sun, exhausted by the same simoom, cooled by
the same night, until we sleep at the journey's end, and together
thank God, Christian and Mahometan, that we have reached our

The good fakeers rejoiced in such simple explanations, and they
came to the conclusion that we were "all the same with a little
difference," thus we were the best of friends with all the
people. If not exactly a cure of their Mahometan souls, they
acknowledged that I held the key to their bowels, which were
entirely dependent upon my will, when the crowd of applicants
daily thronged my medicine chest, and I dispensed jalap, calomel,
opium, and tartar emetic. Upon one occasion a woman brought me a
child of about fifteen months old, with a broken thigh; she had
fallen asleep upon her camel, and had allowed the child to fall
from her arms. I set the thigh, and secured it with gum bandages,
as the mimosas afforded the requisite material. About twenty
yards of old linen in bandages three inches broad, soaked in
thick gum-water, will form the best of splints when it becomes
dry and hard, which in that climate it will do in about an hour.
There was one complaint that I was obliged to leave entirely in
the hands of the Arabs, this was called "frendeet;" it was almost
the certain effect of drinking the water that in the rainy season
is accumulated in pools upon the surface of the rich table lands,
especially between the Atbara and Katariff; the latter is a
market-town about sixty miles from Wat el Negur, on the west bank
of the river. Frendeet commences with a swelling of one of the
limbs, generally accompanied with intense pain; this is caused by
a worm of several feet in length, but no thicker than
pack-thread. The Arab cure is to plaster the limb with cow-dung,
which is their common application for almost all complaints. They
then proceed to make what they term "doors," through which the
worm will be able to escape; but, should it not be able to find
one exit, they make a great number by the pleasant and simple
operation of pricking the skin in many places with a red-hot
lance. In about a week after these means of escape are provided,
one of the wounds will inflame, and assume the character of a
small boil, from which the head of the worm will issue. This is
then seized, and fastened either to a small reed or piece of
wood, which is daily and most gently wound round, until, in the
course of about a week, the entire worm will be extracted, unless
broken during the operation, in which case severe inflammation
will ensue.

It was the 22d November, and the time was approaching when the
grass throughout the entire country would be sufficiently dry to
be fired; we accordingly prepared for our expedition, and it was
necessary to go to Katariff to engage men, and to procure a slave
in the place of old Masara, whose owner would not trust her in
the wild countries we were about to visit. We therefore mounted
our horses, and in two days we reached Katariff, rather less than
sixty miles distant. The journey was exceedingly uninteresting,
as the route lay across the monotonous flats of rich table land,
without a single object to attract the attention, except the long
line of villages which at intervals of about six miles lined the
way. During the dry weather (the present season) there was not a
drop of water in this country, except in wells far apart. Thus
the cattle within twenty miles of the Atbara were driven every
alternate day that great distance to the river, as the wells
would not supply the large herds of the Arabs; although the
animals could support life by drinking every alternate day, the
cows were dry upon the day of fasting; this proved a certain
amount of suffering.

Upon arrival at Katariff we were hospitably received by a Greek
merchant, Michel Georgis, a nephew of the good old man from whom
we had received much attention while at Cassala. The town was a
miserable place, composed simply of the usual straw huts of the
Arabs; the market, or "Soog," was bi-weekly. Katariff was also
known by the name of "Soog Abou Sinn."

I extract an entry from my journal.--"The bazaar held here is
most original. Long rows of thatched open sheds, about six feet
high, form a street; in these sheds the dealers squat with their
various wares exposed on the ground before them. In one, are
Manchester goods, the calicoes are printed in England, with the
name of the Greek merchant to whom they are consigned; in
another, is a curious collection of small wares, as though
samples of larger quantities, but in reality they are the
dealer's whole stock of sundries, which he deals out to numerous
purchasers in minute lots, for paras and half piastres, ginger,
cloves, chills, cardamoms, pepper, turmeric, orris root, saffron,
sandal-wood, musk, a species of moss that smells like patchouli,
antimony for colouring the eyes and lips, henna, glass beads,
cowrie shells, steels for striking fire, &c. &c. Other stalls
contain sword-blades, files, razors, and other hardware, all of
German manufacture, and of the most rubbishing kind. Mingled with
these, in the same stall, are looking-glasses, three inches
square, framed in coloured paper; slippers, sandals, &c. Other
sheds contain camel ropes and bells, saddlery of all descriptions
that are in general use, shoes, &c.; but the most numerous stalls
are those devoted to red pepper, beads, and perfumery."

Beyond the main street of straw booths are vendors of
miscellaneous goods, squatting under temporary fan-shaped straw
screens, which are rented at the rate of five paras per day
(about a farthing); beneath these may be seen vendors of butter
and other grease, contained in a large jar by their side, while
upon a stone before them are arranged balls of fat which are sold
at five paras a lump. Each morsel is about the size of a
cricket-ball: this is supposed to be the smallest quantity
required for one dressing of the hair. Other screens are occupied
by dealers in ropes, mats, leathern bags, girbas or water-skins,
gum sacks, beans, waker, salt, sugar, coffee, &c. &c. Itinerant
snmiths are at work, making knife-blades, repairing spears, &c.
with small boys working the bellows, formed of simple leathern
bags that open and close by the pressure of two sticks. The
object that draws a crowd around him is a professional
story-teller, wonderfully witty, no doubt, as, being mounted upon
a camel from which he addresses his audience, he provokes roars
of merriment; his small eyes, overhanging brow, large mouth, with
thin and tightly compressed lips and deeply dimpled cheeks,
combined with an unlimited amount of brass, completed a picture
of professional shrewdness.

Camels, cattle, and donkeys are also exposed for sale. The
average price for a baggage camel is twelve dollars; a hygeen,
from thirty to sixty dollars; a fat ox, from six to ten dollars
(the dollar at four shillings).

Katariff is on the direct merchants' route from Cassala to
Khartoum. The charge for transport is accordingly low; a camel
loaded with six cantars (600 lbs.) from this spot to Cassala, can
be hired for one dollar, and from thence to Souakim, on the Red
Sea, for five dollars; thus all produce is delivered from
Katariff to the shipping port, at a charge of four shillings per
hundred pounds. Cotton might be grown to any extent on this
magnificent soil, and would pay the planter a large profit, were
regular steam communication established at a reasonable rate
between Souakimn and Suez.

There is a fine grey limestone in the neighbourhood of Katariff.
The collection of people is exceedingly interesting upon a market
day, as Arabs of all tribes, Tokrooris, and some few Abyssinians,
concentrate from distant points. Many of the Arab women would be
exceedingly pretty were their beauty not destroyed by their
custom of gashing the cheeks in three wounds upon either side;
this is inflicted during infancy. Scars are considered
ornamental, and some of the women are much disfigured by such
marks upon their arms and backs; even the men, without exception,
are scarified upon their cheeks. The inhabitants of Kordofan and
Darfur, who are generally prized as slaves, are invariably
marked, not only with simple scars, but by cicatrices raised high
above the natural surface by means of salt rubbed into the
wounds; these unsightly deformities are considered to be great
personal attractions. The Arab women are full of absurd
superstitions; should a woman be in an interesting condition, she
will creep under the body of a strong camel, believing that the
act of passing between the fore and hind legs will endue her
child with the strength of the animal. Young infants are scored
with a razor longitudinally down the back and abdomen, to improve
their constitutions.

I engaged six strong Tokrooris--natives of Darfur--who agreed to
accompany me for five months. These people are a tribe of
Mahometan negroes, of whom I shall speak more hereafter; they are
generally very powerful and courageous, and I preferred a few men
of this race to a party entirely composed of Arabs. Our great
difficulty was to procure a slave woman to grind the corn and to
make the bread for the people. No proprietor would let his slave
on hire to go upon such a journey, and it was impossible to start
without one; the only resource was to purchase the freedom of
some woman, and to engage her as a servant for the trip. Even
this was difficult, as slaves were scarce and in great demand:
however, at last I heard of a man who had a Galla slave who was
clever at making bread, as it had been her duty to make cakes for
sale in the bazaar upon market days. After some delays I
succeeded in obtaining an interview with both the master and
slave at the same time; the former was an Arab, hard at dealing,
but, as I did not wish to drive a bargain, I agreed to the price,
thirty-five dollars, 7l. The name of the woman was Barrake; she
was about twenty-two years of age, brown in complexion, fat, and
strong; rather tall, and altogether she was a fine
powerful-looking woman, but decidedly not pretty; her hair was
elaborately dressed in hundreds of long narrow curls, so thickly
smeared with castor oil that the grease had covered her naked
shoulders; in addition to this, as she had been recently under
the hands of the hairdresser, there was an amount of fat and
other nastiness upon her head that gave her the appearance of
being nearly grey.

I now counted out thirty-five dollars, which I placed in two
piles upon the table, and through the medium of Mahomet I
explained to her that she was no longer a slave, as that sum had
purchased her freedom; at the same time, as it was a large amount
that I had paid, I expected she would remain with us as a servant
until our journey should be over, at which time she should
receive a certain sum in money, as wages at the usual rate.
Mahomet did not agree with this style of address to a slave,
therefore he slightly altered it in the translation, which I at
once detected. The woman looked frightened and uneasy at the
conclusion; I immediately asked Mahomet what he had told her.
"Same like master tell to me!" replied the indignant Mahomet.
"Then have the kindness to repeat to me in English what you said
to her;" I replied. "I tell that slave woman same like master's
word; I tell her master one very good master, she Barrake one
very bad woman; all that good dollars master pay, too much money
for such a bad woman. Now she's master's slave; she belong to
master like a dog; if she not make plenty of good bread, work
hard all day, early morning, late in night, master take a big
stick, break her head."

This was the substance of a translation of my address tinged with
Mahomet's colouring, as being more adapted for the ears of a
slave!I My wife was present, and being much annoyed, we both
assured the woman that Mahomet was wrong, and I insisted upon his
explaining to her literally that "no Englishman could hold a
slave; that the money I had paid rendered her entirely free; that
she would not even be compelled to remain with us, but she could
do as she thought proper; that both her mistress and I should be
exceedingly kind to her, and we would subsequently find her a
good situation in Cairo; in the meantime she would receive good
clothes and wages."

This, Mahomet, much against his will, was obliged to translate
literally. The effect was magical; the woman, who had looked
frightened and unhappy, suddenly beamed with smiles, and without
any warning she ran towards me, and in an instant I found myself
embraced in her loving arms; she pressed me to her bosom, and
smothered me with castor oily kisses, while her greasy ringlets
hung upon my face and neck. How long this entertainment would
have lasted I cannot tell, but I was obliged to cry "Caffa!
Caffa!" (enough! enough!) as it looked improper, and the
perfumery was too rich; fortunately my wife was present, but she
did not appear to enjoy it more than I did; my snow-white blouse
was soiled and greasy, and for the rest of the day I was a
disagreeable compound of smells, castor oil, tallow, musk,
sandal-wood, burnt shells, and Barrake.

Mahomet and Barrake herself, I believe, were the only people who
really enjoyed this little event. "Ha!" Mahomet exclaimed, "this
is your own fault! You insisted upon speaking kindly, and telling
her that she is not a slave, now she thinks that she is one of
your WIVES!" This was the real fact; the unfortunate Barrake had
deceived herself; never having been free, she could not
understand the use of freedom unless she was to be a wife. She
had understood my little address as a proposal, and of course she
was disappointed; but, as an action for breach of promise cannot
be pressed in the Soudan, poor Barrake, although free, had not
the happy rights of a free-born Englishwoman, who can heal her
broken heart with a pecuniary plaster, and console herself with
damages for the loss of a lover.

We were ready to start, having our party of servants complete,
six Tokrooris--Moosa, Abdoolahi, Abderachman, Hassan, Adow, and
Hadji Ali, with Mahomet, Wat Gamma, Bacheet, Mahomet secundus (a
groom), and Barrake; total eleven men and the cook.

When half way to Wat el Negur, we found the whole country in
alarm, Mek Nimmur having suddenly made a foray. He had crossed
the Atbara, and plundered the district, and driven off large
numbers of cattle and camels, after having killed a considerable
number of people. No doubt the reports were somewhat exaggerated,
but the inhabitants of the district were flying from their
villages, with their herds, and were flocking to Katariff. We
arrived at Wat el Negur on the 3d of December, and we now felt
the advantage of our friendship with the good Sheik Achmet, who,
being a friend of Mek Nimmur, had saved our effects during our
absence; these would otherwise have been plundered, as the
robbers had paid him a visit;--he had removed our tents and
baggage to his own house for protection. Not only had he thus
protected our effects, but he had taken the opportunity of
delivering the polite message to Mek Nimmur that I had entrusted
to his charge--expressing a wish to pay him a visit as a
countryman and friend of Mr. Mansfield Parkyns, who had formerly
been so well received by his father.

In a few days the whole country was up. Troops of the Dabaina
Arabs, under the command of Mahmoud Wat Said (who had now assumed
the chieftainship of the tribe after the death of his brother
Atalan), gathered on the frontier, while about 2,000 Egyptian
regulars marched against Gellabat, and attacked the Abyssinians
and Tokrooris, who had united. Several hundreds of the Tokrooris
were killed, and the Abyssinians retreated to the mountains.
Large bodies of Egyptian irregulars threatened Mek Nimmur's
country, but the wily Mek was too much for them. The Jalyn Arabs
were his friends; and, although they paid tribute to the Egyptian
Government from their frontier villages, they acted as spies, and
kept Mek Nimmur au courant of the enemy's movements. The Hamran
Arabs, those mighty hunters with the sword, were thorough
Ishmaelites, and although nominally subject to Egypt, they were
well known as secret friends to Mek Nimmur; and it was believed
that they conveyed information of the localities where the
Dabaina and Shookeryha Arabs had collected their herds. Upon
these Mek Nimmur had a knack of pouncing unexpectedly, when he
was supposed to be a hundred miles in an opposite direction.

The dry weather had introduced a season of anarchy along the
whole frontier. The Atbara was fordable in many places, and it no
longer formed the impassable barrier that necessitated peace. Mek
Nimmur (the Leopard King) showed the cunning and ability of his
namesake by pouncing upon his prey without a moment's warning,
and retreating with equal dexterity. This frontier warfare,
skilfully conducted by Mek Nimmur, was most advantageous to
Theodorus, the King of Abyssinia, as the defence of the boundary
was maintained against Egypt by a constant guerilla warfare. Upon
several occasions, expeditions on a large scale had been
organized against Mek Nimmur by the Governor-General of the
Soudan; but they had invariably failed, as he retreated to the
inaccessible mountains, where he had beaten them with loss, and
they had simply wreaked their vengeance by burning the deserted
villages of straw huts in the low lands, that a few dollars would
quickly rebuild. Mek Nimmur was a most unpleasant neighbour to
the Egyptian Government, and accordingly he was a great friend of
the King Theodorus; he was, in fact, a shield that protected the
heart of Abyssinia.

As I have already described, the Base were always at war with
everybody; and as Mek Nimmur and the Abyssinians were constantly
fighting with the Egyptians, the passage of the Atbara to the
east bank was the commencement of a territory where the sword and
lance represented the only law. The Hamran Arabs dared not
venture with their flocks farther east than Geera, on the
Settite, about twenty-five miles from Wat el Negur. From the
point of junction of the Settite with the Atbara opposite Tomat
to Geera, they were now encamped with their herds upon the
borders of the river for the dry season. I sent a messenger to
their sheik, Owat, accompanied by Mahomet, with the firman of the
Viceroy, and I requested him to supply me with elephant-hunters
(aggageers) and guides to accompany me into the Base and Mek
Nimmur's country.

My intention was to thoroughly examine all the great rivers of
Abyssinia that were tributaries to the Nile. These were the
Settite, Royan, Angrab, Salaam, Rahad, Dinder, and the Blue Nile.
If possible, I should traverse the Galla country, and crossing
the Blue Nile, I should endeavour to reach the White Nile. But
this latter idea I subsequently found impracticable, as it would
have interfered with the proper season for my projected journey
up the White Nile in search of the sources.

During the absence of Mahomet, I received a very polite message
from Mek Nimmur, accompanied by a present of twenty pounds of
coffee, with an invitation to pay him a visit. His country lay
between the Settite river and the Bahr Salaam; thus without his
invitation I might have found it difficult to traverse his
territory;--so far, all went well. I returned my salaams, and
sent word that we intended to hunt through the Base country,
after which we should have the honour of passing a few days with
him on our road to the river Salaam, at which place we intended
to hunt elephants and rhinoceros. Mahomet returned, accompanied
by a large party of Hamran Arabs, including several hunters, one
of whom was Sheik Abou Do Roussoul, the nephew of Sheik Owat; as
his name in full was too long, he generally went by the
abbreviation "Abou Do." He was a splendid fellow, a little above
six feet one, with a light active figure, but exceedingly well
developed muscles: his face was strikingly handsome; his eyes
were like those of a giraffe, but the sudden glance of an eagle
lighted them up with a flash during the excitement of
conversation, which showed little of the giraffe's gentle
character. Abou Do was the only tall man of the party, the others
were of middle height, with the exception of a little fellow
named Jali, who was not above five feet four inches, but
wonderfully muscular, and in expression a regular daredevil.
There were two parties of hunters, one under Abou Do, and the
other consisting of four brothers Sherrif. The latter were the
most celebrated aggageers among the renowned tribe of the Hamran;
their father and grandfather had been mighty Nimrods, and the
broadswords wielded by their strong arms had descended to the men
who now upheld the prestige of the ancient blades. The eldest was
Taher Sherrif; his second brother, Roder Sherrif, was a very
small, active-looking man, with a withered left arm. An elephant
had at one time killed his horse, and on the same occasion had
driven its sharp tusk through the arm of the rider, completely
splitting the limb, and splintering the bone from the elbow-joint
to the wrist to such an extent, that by degrees the fragments had
sloughed away, and the arm had become shrivelled and withered. It
now resembled a mass of dried leather, twisted into a deformity,
without the slightest shape of an arm; this was about fourteen
inches in length from the shoulder; the stiff and crippled hand,
with contracted fingers, resembled the claw of a vulture.

In spite of his maimed condition, Roder Sherrif was the most
celebrated leader in the elephant hunt. His was the dangerous
post to ride close to the head of the infuriated animal and
provoke the charge, and then to lead the elephant in pursuit,
while the aggageers attacked it from behind; it was in the
performance of this duty that he had met with the accident, as
his horse had fallen over some hidden obstacle, and was
immediately caught. Being an exceedingly light weight he had
continued to occupy this important position in the hunt, and the
rigid fingers of the left hand served as a hook, upon which he
could hang the reins.

My battery of rifles was now laid upon a mat for examination;
they were in beautiful condition, and they excited the admiration
of the entire party. The perfection of workmanship did not appear
to interest them so much as the size of the bores; they thrust
their fingers down each muzzle, until they at last came to the
"Baby," when, finding that two fingers could be easily
introduced, they at once fell in love with that rifle in
particular. My men explained that it was a "Jenna el Mootfah"
(child of a cannon). "Sahe, Jenna el Mootfah kabeer," they
replied (it is true, it is the child of a very big cannon). Their
delight was made perfect by the exhibition of the half-pound
explosive shell, the effects of which were duly explained. I told
them that I was an old elephant hunter, but that I did not hunt
for the sake of the ivory, as I wished to explore the country to
discover the cause of the Nile inundations, therefore I wished to
examine carefully the various Abyssinian rivers; but as I had
heard they were wonderful sportsmen, I should like them to join
my party, and we could both hunt and explore together. They
replied that they knew every nook and corner of the entire
country as far as Mek Nimmur's and the Base, but that in the
latter country we must be prepared to fight, as they made a
practice of showing no quarter to the Base, because they received
none from them; thus we should require a strong party. I pointed
to my rifles, which I explained were odds against the Base, who
were without fire-arms; and we arranged to start together on the
17th of December.

In the interval I was busily engaged in making bullets for the
journey, with an admixture of one pound of quicksilver to twelve
of lead. This hardens the bullet at the same time that it
increases the weight, but great caution must be observed in the
manufacture, as the mercury, being heavier than the lead, will
sink to the bottom, unless stirred with a red-hot iron when
mixed. The admixture must take place in small quantities,
otherwise the quicksilver will evaporate if exposed to a great
heat. Thus the molten lead should be kept upon the fire in a
large reservoir, while a portion of quicksilver should be added
regularly to every ladleful taken for immediate use. This should
be well stirred before it is poured into the mould. Bullets
formed of this mixture of metals are far superior to any others.

My preparations for the journey were soon completed. We had
passed a most agreeable time at Wat el Negur. Although I had not
had much shooting, I gained much experienee in the country,
having made several extensive journeys in the neighbourhood, and
our constant conversations with the sheik had somewhat improved
my Arabic. I had discovered several plants hitherto unknown to
me,--among others, a peculiar bulb, from which I had prepared
excellent arrowroot. This produced several tubers resembling
sweet potatoes, but exceedingly long and thin; it was known by
the Arabs as "baboon." I pierced with a nail a sheet of tin from
the lining of a packing case, and I quickly improvised a grater,
upon which I reduced the bulb to pulp. This I washed in water,
and when strained through cotton cloth, it was allowed to settle
for several hours. The clear water was then poured off; and the
thick sediment, when dried in the sun, became arrowroot of the
best quality. The Arabs had no idea of this preparation, but
simply roasted the roots on the embers.

On the 17th of August, 1861, accompanied by the German Florian,
we started from Wat el Negur, and said good-bye to our very kind
friend, Sheik Achmet, who insisted upon presenting us with a
strong but exceedingly light angarep (bedstead), suitable for
camel travelling, and an excellent water-skin, that we should be
constantly reminded of him, night and day.

Florian was in a weak condition, as he had suffered much from
fever throughout the rainy season. He started under
disadvantageous circumstances, as he had purchased a horse that
was a bad bargain. The Arabs, who are sharp practitioners, had
dealt hardly with him, as they had sold him a wretched brute that
could make no other use of its legs than to kick. Of course they
had imposed upon poor Florian a long history of how this horse in
a giraffe hunt had been the first at the death, &c. &c., and he,
the deceived, had promised to shoot a hippopotamus to give them
in barter. This he had already done, and he had exchanged a river
horse, worth twenty dollars, for a terrestrial horse, worth
twenty piastres.

Florian had never mounted a horse in his lifetime as his shooting
had always been on foot. This he now explained to us, although
the confession was quite unnecessary, as his first attempt at
mounting was made upon the wrong side.

Throughout his journey to Geera on the Settite, there was a
constant difference of opinion between him and his new purchase,
until we suddenly heard a heavy fall. Upon looking back, I
perceived Florian like a spread eagle on his stomach upon the
ground, lying before the horse, who was quietly looking at his
new master. On another occasion, I heard a torrent of abuse
expressed in German, and upon turning round I found him clinging
to the neck of his animal, having lost both stirrups, while his
rifle had fallen to the ground. He was now cursing his beast,
whom he accused of wilful murder, for having replied by a kick to
a slight tap he had administered with a stick. I could not help
suggesting that he would find it awkward should he be obliged to
escape from an elephant upon that animal in rough and difficult
ground where good riding would be essential; and he declared that
nothing should tempt him either to hunt or to escape from any
beast on horseback, as he would rather trust to his legs.

Upon arriving at Geera, we bivouacked upon the sandy bed of the
river, which had much changed in appearance since our last visit.
Although much superior to the Atbara, the stream was confined to
a deep channel about 120 yards wide, in the centre of the now dry
bed of rounded pebbles and sand. Exactly opposite were extensive
encampments of the Hamran Arabs, who were congregated in
thousands between this point and the Atbara junction. Their limit
for pasturage was about six miles up stream from Geera, beyond
which point they dare not trust their flocks on account of their
enemies, the Base.

We were immediately visited, upon our arrival, by a number of
Arabs, including the Sheik Abou Do, from whom I purchased two
good milk goats to accompany us upon our journey. I had already
procured one at Wat el Negur in exchange for a few strips of
hippopotamus hide for making whips.

Lions were roaring all night close to our sleeping place; there
were many of these animals in this neighbourhood, as they were
attracted by the flocks of the Arabs.

On the following morning, at daybreak, several Arabs arrived with
a report that elephants had been drinking in the river within
half an hour's march of our sleeping place. I immediately started
with my men, accompanied by Florian, and we shortly arrived upon
the tracks of the herd. I had three Hamran Arabs as trackers, one
of whom, Taher Noor, had engaged to accompany us throughout the

For about eight miles we followed the spoor through high-dried
grass and thorny bush, until we at length arrived at dense jungle
of kittar,--the most formidable of the hooked thorn mimosas. Here
the tracks appeared to wander; some elephants having travelled
straight ahead, while others had strayed to the right and left.
While engaged in determining the path of the herd, we observed
four giraffes at about half a mile distant, but they had already
perceived us, and were in full flight. For about two hours we
travelled upon the circuitous tracks of the elephants to no
purpose, when we suddenly were startled by the shrill trumpet of
one of these animals in the thick thorns, a few hundred yards to
our left. The ground was so intensely hard and dry that it was
impossible to distinguish the new tracks from the old, which
crossed and recrossed in all directions. I therefore decided to
walk carefully along the outskirts of the jungle, trusting to
find their place of entrance by the fresh broken boughs. In about
an hour we had thus examined two or three miles, without
discovering a clue to their recent path, when we turned round a
clump of bushes, and suddenly came in view of two grand
elephants, standing at the edge of the dense thorns; having our
wind, they vanished instantly into the the jungle. We could not
follow them, as their course was down wind; we therefore made a
circuit to leeward for about a mile, and, finding that the
elephants had not crossed in that direction, we felt sure that we
must come upon them with the wind in our favour should they still
be within the thorny jungle; this was certain, as it was their
favourite retreat.

With the greatest labour I led the way, creeping frequently upon
my hands and knees to avoid the hooks of the kittar bush, and
occasionally listening for a sound. At length, after upwards of
an hour passed in this slow and fatiguing advance, I distinctly
heard the flap of an elephant's ear, shortly followed by the deep
guttural sigh of one of those animals, within a few paces, but so
dense was the screen of jungle that I could see nothing. We
waited for some minutes, but not the slightest sound could be
heard; the elephants were aware of danger, and they were, like
ourselves, listening attentively for the first intimation of an
enemy. This was a highly exciting moment; should they charge,
there would not be a possibility of escape, as the hooked thorns
rendered any sudden movement almost impracticable. In another
moment, there was a tremendous crash; and, with a sound like a
whirlwind, the herd dashed through the crackling jungle. I rushed
forward, as I was uncertain whether they were in advance or
retreat; leaving a small sample of my nose upon a kittar thorn,
and tearing my way, with naked arms, through what, in cold blood,
would have appeared impossible, I caught sight of two elephants
leading across my path, with the herd following in a dense mass
behind them. Firing a shot at the leading elephant, simply in the
endeavour to check the herd, I repeated with the left-hand barrel
at the head of his companion; this staggered him, and threw the
main body into confusion: they immediately closed up in a dense
mass, and bore everything before them, but the herd exhibited
merely an impenetrable array of hind quarters wedged together so
firmly that it was impossible to obtain a head or shoulder shot.
I was within fifteen paces of them, and so compactly were they
packed, that with all their immense strength they could not at
once force so extensive a front through the tough and powerful
branches of the dense kittar. For about half a minute they were
absolutely checked, and they bored forward with all their might
in their determination to open a road through the matted thorns:
the elastic boughs, bent from their position, sprang back with
dangerous force, and would have fractured the skull of any one
who came within their sweep. A very large elephant was on the
left flank, and for an instant this turned obliquely to the left;
I quickly seized the opportunity and fired the "Baby," with an
explosive shell, aimed far back in the flank, trusting that it
would penetrate beneath the opposite shoulder. The recoil of the
"Baby," loaded with ten drachms of the strongest powder and a
half-pound shell, spun me round like a top--it was difficult to
say which was staggered the most severely, the elephant or
myself; however, we both recovered, and I seized one of my double
rifles, a Reilly No. 10, that was quickly pushed into my hand by
my Tokroori, Hadji Ali. This was done just in time, as an
elephant from the baffled herd turned sharp round, and, with its
immense ears cocked, it charged down upon us with a scream of
rage. "One of us she must have if I miss!"

This was the first downright charge of an African elephant that
I had seen, and instinctively I followed my old Ceylon plan of
waiting for a close shot. She lowered her head when within about
six yards, and I fired low for the centre of the forehead,
exactly in the swelling above the root of the trunk. She
collapsed to the shot, and fell dead, with a heavy shock, upon
the ground. At the same moment, the thorny barrier gave way
before the pressure of the herd, and the elephants disappeared in
the thick jungle, through which it was impossible to follow them.

I had suffered terribly from the hooked thorns, and the men
likewise. This had been a capital trial for my Tokrooris, who had
behaved remarkably well, and had I gained much confidence by my
successful forehead shot at the elephant when in full charge; but
I must confess that this is the only instance in which I have
succeeded in killing an African elephant by the front shot,
although I have steadily tried the experiment upon subsequent

Florian had not had an opportunity of firing a shot, as I had
been in his way, and he could not pass on one side owing to the

We had very little time to examine the elephant, as we were far
from home, and the sun was already low. I felt convinced that the
other elephant could not be far off, after having received the
"Baby's" half-pound shell carefully directed, and I resolved to
return on the following morning with many people and camels to
divide the flesh. It was dark by the time we arrived at the
tents, and the news immediately spread through the Arab camp that
two elephants had been killed.

On the following morning we started, and, upon arrival at the
dead elephant, we followed the tracks of that wounded by the
"Baby." The blood upon the bushes guided us in a few minutes to
the spot where the elephant lay dead, at about 300 yards'
distance. The whole day passed in flaying the two animals, and
cutting off the flesh, which was packed in large gum sacks, with
which the camels were loaded. I was curious to examine the effect
of the half-pound shell: it had entered the flank on the right
side, breaking the rib upon which it had exploded; it had then
passed through the stomach and the lower portion of the lungs,
both of which were terribly shattered, and breaking one of the
fore-ribs on the left side, it had lodged beneath the skin of the
shoulder. This was irresistible work, and the elephant had
evidently dropped in a few minutes after having received the

The conical bullet of quicksilver and lead, propelled by seven
drachms of powder, had entered the exact centre of the forehead
of the elephant No. 1, and, having passed completely through the
brain and the back part of the skull, we found it sticking fast
in the spine, BETWEEN THE SHOULDERS. These No. 10 Reillys* were
wonderfully powerful rifles, and exceedingly handy; they weighed
fourteen pounds, and were admirably adapted for dangerous game.
I measured both the elephants accurately with a tape: that killed
by the "Baby" was nine feet six inches from the forefoot to the
shoulder, the other was eight feet three inches. It is a common
mistake that twice the circumference of the foot is the height of
an elephant; there is no such rule that can be depended upon, as
their feet vary in size without any relative proportion to the
height of the animal.

* They are now in England at Mr. Reilly's, No. 215, Oxford
Street, having accompanied me throughout my expedition,
and they have never been out of order.

A most interesting fact had occurred: when I found the larger
elephant, killed by the "Baby," I noticed an old wound unhealed
and full of matter in the front of the left shoulder; the bowels
were shot through, and were green in various places. Florian
suggested that it must be an elephant that I had wounded at Wat
el Negur; we tracked the course of the bullet most carefully,
until we at length discovered my unmistakeable bullet of
quicksilver and lead, almost uninjured, in the fleshy part of the
thigh, imbedded in an unhealed wound. Thus, by a curious chance,
upon my first interview with African elephants by daylight, I had
killed the identical elephant that I had wounded at Wat el Negur
forty-three days ago in the dhurra plantation, twenty-eight miles
distant! Both these elephants were females. It was the custom of
these active creatures to invade the dhurra fields from this
great distance, and to return to these almost impenetrable thorny
jungles, where they were safe from the attack of the aggageers,
but not from the rifles.

On our return to camp, the rejoicings were great; the women
yelled as usual, and I delighted the Hamrans by dividing the
meat, and presenting them with the hides for shields. I gave Abou
Do, and all the hunters, and my camel drivers, large quantities
of fat; and I found that I was accredited as a brother hunter by
the knights of the sword, who acknowledged that their weapons
were useless in the thick jungles of Tooleet, the name of the
place where we had killed the elephants.



WE started from Geera, on the 23d of December, with our party
complete. The Hamran sword-hunters were Abou Do, Jali, and
Suleiman. My chief tracker was Taher Noor, who, although a good
hunter, was not a professional aggahr, and I was accompanied by
the father of Abou Do, who was a renowned "howarti," or harpooner
of hippopotami. This magnificent old man might have been Neptune
himself; he stood about six feet two, and his grizzled locks hung
upon his shoulders in thick and massive curls, while his deep
bronze features could not have been excelled in beauty of
outline. A more classical figure I have never beheld than the old
Abou Do with his harpoon, as he first breasted the torrent, and
then landed dripping from the waves to join our party from the
Arab camp on the opposite side of the river. In addition to my
Tokrooris, I had engaged nine camels, each with a separate
driver, of the Hamrans, who were to accompany us throughout the
expedition. These people were glad to engage themselves, with
their camels included, at one and a half dollars (six shillings)
per month, for man and beast as one. We had not sufficient
baggage to load five camels, but four carried a large supply of
corn for our horses and people.

Hardly were we mounted and fairly started, than the monkey-like
agility of our aggageers was displayed in a variety of antics,
that were far more suited to performance in a circus than to a
party of steady and experienced hunters, who wished to reserve
the strength of their horses for a trying journey.

Abou Do was mounted on a beautiful Abyssinian horse, a grey;
Suleiman rode a rough and inferior-looking beast; while little
Jali, who was the pet of the party, rode a grey mare, not
exceeding fourteen hands in height, which matched her rider
exactly in fire, spirit, and speed. Never was there a more
perfect picture of a wild Arab horseman than Jali on his mare.
Hardly was he in the saddle, than away flew the mare over the
loose shingles that formed the dry bed of the river, scattering
the rounded pebbles in the air from her flinty hoofs, while her
rider in the vigour of delight threw himself almost under her
belly while at full speed, and picked up stones from the ground,
which he flung, and again caught as they descended. Never were
there more complete Centaurs than these Hamran Arabs; the horse
and man appeared to be one animal, and that of the most elastic
nature, that could twist and turn with the suppleness of a snake;
the fact of their being separate beings was proved by the rider
springing to the earth with his drawn sword while the horse was
in full gallop over rough and difficult ground, and clutching the
mane, he again vaulted into the saddle with the agility of a
monkey, without once checking the speed. The fact of being on
horseback had suddenly altered the character of these Arabs; from
a sedate and proud bearing, they had become the wildest examples
of the most savage disciples of Nimrod; excited by enthusiasm,
they shook their naked blades aloft till the steel trembled in
their grasp, and away they dashed over rocks, through thorny
bush, across ravines, up and down steep inclinations, engaging in
a mimic hunt, and going through the various acts supposed to
occur in the attack of a furious elephant. I must acknowledge
that, in spite of my admiration for their wonderful dexterity, I
began to doubt their prudence. I had three excellent horses for
my wife and myself; the Hamran hunters had only one for each;
and, if the commencement were an example of their usual style of
horsemanship, I felt sure that a dozen horses would not be
sufficient for the work before us. However, it was not the moment
to offer advice, as they were simply mad with excitement and

The women raised their loud and shrill yell at parting, and our
party of about twenty-five persons, with nine camels, six horses,
and two donkeys, exclusive of the German Florian, with his
kicking giraffe-hunter, and attendants, ascended the broken slope
that formed the broad valley of the Settite river.

There was very little game in the neighbourhood, as it was
completely overrun by the Arabs and their flocks; and we were to
march about fifty miles E.S.E. before we should arrive in the
happy hunting-grounds of the Base country, where we were led to
expect great results. Previous to leaving Wat el Negur I had
thoroughly drilled my Tokrooris in their duties as gun-bearers,
which had established a discipline well exemplified in the recent


Back to Full Books