The Albert N'Yanza, Great Basin of the Nile
Sir Samuel White Baker

Part 2 out of 9

are something superlative in the way of savages; the men as naked as
they came into the world; their bodies rubbed with ashes, and their hair
stained red by a plaster of ashes and cow's urine. These fellows are the
most unearthly-looking devils I ever saw--there is no other expression
for them. The unmarried women are also entirely naked; the married have
a fringe made of grass around their loins. The men wear heavy coils of
beads about their necks, two heavy bracelets of ivory on the upper
portion of the arms, copper rings upon the wrists, and a horrible kind
of bracelet of massive iron armed with spikes about an inch in length,
like leopard's claws, which they use for a similar purpose. The chief of
the Nuehr village, Joctian, with his wife and daughter, paid me a visit,
and asked for all they saw in the shape of beads and bracelets, but
declined a knife as useless. They went away delighted with their
presents. The women perforate the upper lip, and wear an ornament about
four inches long of beads upon an iron wire; this projects like the horn
of a rhinoceros; they are very ugly. The men are tall and powerful,
armed with lances. They carry pipes that contain nearly a quarter of a
pound of tobacco, in which they smoke simple charcoal should the loved
tobacco fail. The carbonic acid gas of the charcoal produces a slight
feeling of intoxication, which is the effect desired. Koorshid Aga
returned them a girl from Khartoum who had been captured by a
slave-hunter; this delighted the people, and they immediately brought an
ox as an offering. The "Clumsy's" yard broke in two pieces, thus I was
obliged to seek a dry spot for the necessary repairs. I left the village
Nuehr Eliab, and in the evening lowered the "Clumsy's" yard; taking her
in tow, we are, this moment, 8.30 P.M., slowly sailing through clouds of
mosquitoes looking out for a landing-place in this world of marshes. I
took the chief of the Nuehrs' portrait, as he sat in my cabin on the
divan; of course he was delighted. He exhibited his wife's arms and back
covered with jagged scars, in reply to my question as to the use of the
spiked iron bracelet. Charming people are these poor blacks! as they are
termed by English sympathisers; he was quite proud of having clawed his
wife like a wild beast. In sober earnest, my monkey "Wallady" looks like
a civilized being compared to the Nuehr savages. The chiefs forehead was
tattooed in horizontal lines that had the appearance of wrinkles. The
hair is worn drawn back from the face. Both men and women wear a bag
slung from the neck, apparently to contain any presents they may
receive, everything being immediately pocketed. Course S.S.E.

Jan. 14th.-All day occupied in repairing the yard; the buffalo hide of
the animal that killed Sali Achmet being most serviceable in lashing.
Sailed in the evening in company with a boat belonging to the Austrian
mission. River about 120 yards of clear water; current about two miles
per hour. Found quantities of natron on the marshy ground bordering the

Had a turkey for dinner, a "cadeau" from Koorshid Aga, and, as a great
wonder, the kisras (a sort of brown pancake in lieu of bread) were free
from sand. I must have swallowed a good-sized millstone since I have
been in Africa, in the shape of grit rubbed from the moorhaka, or
grinding-stone. The moorhaka, when new, is a large flat stone, weighing
about forty pounds; upon this the corn is ground by being rubbed with a
cylindrical stone with both hands. After a few months' use half of the
original grinding-stone disappears, the grit being mixed with the flour;
thus the grinding-stone is actually eaten. No wonder that hearts become
stony in this country!

Jan. 15th.-We were towing through high reeds this morning, the men
invisible, and the rope mowing over the high tops of the grass, when the
noise disturbed a hippopotamus from his slumber, and he was immediately
perceived close to the boat. He was about half grown, and in an instant
about twenty men jumped into the water in search of him, thinking him a
mere baby; but as he suddenly appeared, and was about three times as
large as they had expected, they were not very eager to close. However,
the reis Diabb pluckily led the way and seized him by the hind leg, when
the crowd of men rushed in, and we had a grand tussle. Ropes were thrown
from the vessel, and nooses were quickly slipped over his head, but he
had the best of the struggle and was dragging the people into the open
river; I was therefore obliged to end the sport by putting a ball
through his head. He was scored all over by the tusks of some other
hippopotamus that had been bullying him. The men declared that his
father had thus misused him; others were of opinion that it was his
mother; and the argument ran high, and became hot.

These Arabs have an extraordinary taste for arguments upon the most
trifling points. I have frequently known my men argue throughout the
greater part of the night, and recommence the same argument on the
following morning. These debates generally end in a fight; and in the
present instance the excitement of the hunt only added to the heat of
the argument. They at length agreed to refer it to me, and both parties
approached, vociferously advancing their theories; one half persisting
that the young hippo had been bullied by his father, and the others
adhering to the mother as the cause. I, being referee, suggested that
"perhaps it was his UNCLE." Wah Illahi sahe! (By Allah it is true!) Both
parties were satisfied with the suggestion; dropping their theory they
became practical, and fell to with knives and axes to cut up the cause
of the argument. He was as fat as butter, and was a perfect godsend to
the people, who divided him with great excitement and good humour.

We are now a fleet of seven boats, those of several traders having
joined us. The "Clumsy's" yard looks much better than formerly. I cut
off about ten feet from the end, as it was topheavy. The yard of this
class of vessel should look like an immense fishing-rod, and should be
proportionately elastic, as it tapers gradually to a point. Course S.E.
I hear that the Shillook tribe have attacked Chenooda's people, and that
his boat was capsized, and some lives lost in the hasty retreat. It
serves these slave-hunters right, and I rejoice at their defeat. Exodus
xx. 16: "And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found
in his hand, he shall surely be put to death."

Jan. 16th.--A new dish! There is no longer mock-turtle soup--REAL
turtle is MOCK HIPPOPOTAMUS. I tried boiling the fat, flesh, and skin
together, the result being that the skin assumes the appearance of the
green fat of the turtle, but is far superior. A piece of the head thus
boiled, and then soused in vinegar, with chopped onions, cayenne pepper,
and salt, throws brawn completely in the shade. My men having revelled
in a cauldron of hippopotamus soup, I serve out grog at sunset, all
ships being together. Great contentment, all appetites being satisfied.
The labour of towing through swamps, tugging by the long grass, and
poling against a strong current, is dreadful, and there appears to be no
end to this horrible country. "On dit," that during the dry season there
is plenty of game near the river, but at present boundless marshes
devoid of life, except in the shape of mosquitoes, and a very few
water-fowl, are the only charms of the White Nile. The other day I
caught one of the men stealing the salt; Richarn having been aware of
daily thefts of this treasure, and having failed to report them, the
thief received twenty with the coorbatch, and Richarn is reduced to the
ranks, as I anticipated. No possibility of taking observations, as there
is no landing-place. Jan. 17th.-As usual, marshes, mosquitoes, windings,
dead flats, and light winds; the mosquitoes in the cabin give no rest
even during the day. Stream about two miles per hour. Course S.E.; the
river averaging about one hundred and ten yards in width of clear water.
Jan. 18th.-Country as usual, but the wind brisker. In company with
Koorshid Aga's boats. I have bound the stock of Oswell's old gun with
rhinoceros hide. All guns made for sport in wild countries and rough
riding, should have steel instead of iron from the breech-socket,
extending far back to within six inches of the shoulder-plate; the
trigger-guard should likewise be steel, and should be carried back to an
equal distance with the above rib; the steel should be of extra
thickness, and screwed through to the upper piece; thus the two, being
connected by screws above and below, no fall could break the stock.

Jan,. 19th.-At 8 A.M. we emerged from the apparently endless regions of
marsh grass, and saw on the right bank large herds of cattle, tended by
naked natives, in a country abounding with high grass and mimosa wood.
At 9.15 A.M. arrived at the Zareeba, or station of Binder, an Austrian
subject, and White Nile trader; here we found five noggurs belonging to
him and his partner. Binder's vakeel insisted upon giving a bullock to
my people. This bullock I resisted for some time, until I saw that the
man was affronted. It is impossible to procure from the natives any
cattle by purchase. The country is now a swamp, but it will be passable
during the dry season. Took equal altitudes of sun producing latitude 7
degrees 5' 46". The misery of these unfortunate blacks is beyond
description; they will not kill their cattle, neither do they taste meat
unless an animal dies of sickness; they will not work, thus they
frequently starve, existing only upon rats, lizards, snakes, and upon
such fish as they can spear. The spearing of fish is a mere hazard, as
they cast the harpoon at random among the reeds; thus, out of three or
four hundred casts, they may, by good luck, strike a fish. The harpoon
is neatly made, and is attached to a pliable reed about twenty feet
long, secured by a long line. Occasionally they strike a monster, as
there are varieties of fish which attain a weight of two hundred pounds.
In the event of harpooning such a fish, a long and exciting chase is the
result, as he carries away the harpoon, and runs out the entire length
of line; they then swim after him, holding their end of the line, and
playing him until exhausted. The chief of this tribe (the Kytch) wore a
leopard-skin across his shoulders, and a skull-cap of white beads, with
a crest of white ostrich-feathers; but the mantle was merely slung over
his shoulders, and all other parts of his person were naked. His
daughter was the best-looking girl that I have seen among the blacks;
she was about sixteen. Her clothing consisted of a little piece of
dressed hide about a foot wide slung across her shoulders, all other
parts being exposed. All the girls of this country wear merely a circlet
of little iron jingling ornaments round their waists. They came in
numbers, bringing small bundles of wood to exchange for a few handfuls
of corn. Most of the men are tall, but wretchedly thin; the children are
mere skeletons, and the entire tribe appears thoroughly starved. The
language is that of the Dinka. The chief carried a curious tobacco-box,
an iron spike about two feet long, with a hollow socket, bound with
iguana-skin; this served for either tobacco-box, club, or dagger.
Throughout the whole of this marshy country it is curious to observe the
number of white ant-hills standing above the water in the marshes: these
Babel towers save their inmates from the deluge; working during the dry
season, the white ants carry their hills to so great a height (about ten
feet), that they can live securely in the upper stories during the
floods. The whole day we are beset by crowds of starving people,
bringing small gourd-shells to receive the expected corn. The people of
this tribe are mere apes, trusting entirely to the productions of nature
for their subsistence; they will spend hours in digging out field-mice
from their burrows, as we should for rabbits. They are the most pitiable
set of savages that can be imagined; so emaciated, that they have no
visible posteriors; they look as though they had been planed off, and
their long thin legs and arms give them a peculiar gnat-like appearance.
At night they crouch close to the fires, lying in the smoke to escape
the clouds of mosquitoes. At this season the country is a vast swamp,
the only dry spots being the white ant-hills; in such places the natives
herd like wild animals, simply rubbing themselves with wood-ashes to
keep out the cold.

Jan. 20th.--The river from this spot turns sharp to the east, but an
arm equally broad comes from S. 20 degrees E. to this point. There is no
stream from this arm. The main stream runs round the angle with a rapid
current of about two and a half miles per hour. The natives say that
this arm of dead water extends for three or four days' sailing, and is
then lost in the high reeds. My reis Diabb declares this to be a mere
backwater, and that it is not connected with the main river by any
positive channel.

So miserable are the natives of the Kytch tribe, that they devour both
skins and bones of all dead animals; the bones are pounded between
stones, and when reduced to powder they are boiled to a kind of
porridge; nothing is left even for a fly to feed upon, when an animal
either dies a natural death, or is killed. I never pitied poor creatures
more than these utterly destitute savages; their method of returning
thanks is by holding your hand and affecting to spit upon it; which
operation they do not actually perform, as I have seen stated in works
upon the White Nile. Their domestic arrangements are peculiar. Polygamy
is of course allowed, as in all other hot climates and savage countries;
but when a man becomes too old to pay sufficient attention to his
numerous young wives, the eldest son takes the place of his father and
becomes his substitute. To every herd of cattle there is a sacred bull,
which is supposed to exert an influence over the prosperity of the
flocks; his horns are ornamented with tufts of feathers, and frequently
with small bells, and he invariably leads the great herd to pasture. On
starting in the early morning from the cattle kraal the natives address
the bull, telling him "to watch over the herd; to keep the cows from
straying; and to lead them to the sweetest pastures, so that they shall
give abundance of milk," &c.

Jan. 21st.--Last night a sudden squall carried away Koorshid Aga's
mast by the deck, leaving him a complete wreck. The weather to-day is
dull, oppressive, and dead calm. As usual, endless marshes, and
mosquitoes. I never either saw or heard of so disgusting a country as
that bordering the White Nile from Khartoum to this point. Course S.E.
as nearly as I can judge, but the endless windings, and the absence of
any mark as a point, make it difficult to give an accurate course--the
river about a hundred yards in width of clear water; alive with floating
vegetation, with a current of about two miles per hour.

Jan. 22d.--The luxuries of the country as usual--malaria, marshes,
mosquitoes, misery; far as the eye can reach, vast treeless marshes
perfectly lifeless. At times progressing slowly by towing, the men
struggling through the water with the rope; at other times by running
round the boat in a circle, pulling with their hands at the grass, which
thus acts like the cogs of a wheel to move us gradually forward. One of
my horses, "Filfil," out of pure amusement kicks at the men as they
pass, and having succeeded several times in kicking them into the river,
he perseveres in the fun, I believe for lack of other employment.

Hippopotami are heard snorting in the high reeds both day and night, but
we see very few. The black women on board are daily quarrelling together
and fighting like bull-dogs; little Gaddum Her is a regular black toy
terrier, rather old, wonderfully strong, very short, but making up in
spirit for what she lacks in stature; she is the quintessence of vice,
being ready for a stand-up fight at the shortest notice. On one occasion
she fought with her antagonist until both fell down the hold, smashing
all my water jars; on another day they both fell into the river. The
ennui of this wretched voyage appears to try the temper of both man and
beast; the horses, donkeys, and camels are constantly fighting and
biting at all around.

Jan. 23d.--At 8 a.m. arrived at Aboukooka, the establishment of a
French trader. It is impossible to describe the misery of the land; in
the midst of the vast expanse of marsh is a little plot of dry ground
about thirty-five yards square, and within thirty yards of the river,
but to be reached only by wading through the swamp. The establishment
consisted of about a dozen straw huts, occupied by a wretched
fever-stricken set of people; the vakeel, and others employed, came to
the boats to beg for corn. I stopped for ten minutes at the charming
watering-place Aboukooka to obtain the news of the country. The current
at this point is as usual very strong, being upwards of two and a half
miles per hour; the river is quite bank-full although not actually
flooding, the windings endless; one moment our course is due north, then
east, then again north, and as suddenly due south; in fact, we face
every point of the compass within an hour. Frequently the noggurs that
are far in the rear appear in advance; it is a heartbreaking river
without a single redeeming point; I do not wonder at the failure of all
expeditions in this wretched country. There is a breeze to-day, thus the
oppressive heat and stagnated marsh atmosphere is relieved. I have
always remarked that when the sky is clouded we suffer more from heat
and oppression than when the day is clear; there is a weight in the
atmosphere that would be interesting if tested by the barometer.

The water is excessively bad throughout the White Nile, especially
between the Shillook and the Kytch tribes; that of the Bahr Gazal is
even worse. The reis Diabb tells me that the north wind always fails
between the Nuehr and the upper portion of the Kytch. I could not
believe that so miserable a country existed as the whole of this land.
There is no game to be seen at this season, few birds, and not even
crocodiles show themselves; all the water-animals are hidden in the high
grass; thus there is absolutely nothing living to be seen, but day after
day is passed in winding slowly through the labyrinth of endless marsh,
through clouds of mosquitoes.

At 4.20 a.m. arrived at the Austrian mission-station of St. Croix, and
I delivered a letter to the chief of the establishment, Herr Morlang.

Jan. 24th.--Took observations of the sun, making latitude 6 degrees

The mission-station consists of about twenty grass huts on a patch of
dry ground close to the river. The church is a small hut, but neatly
arranged. Herr Morlang acknowledged, with great feeling, that the
mission was absolutely useless among such savages; that he had worked
with much zeal for many years, but that the natives were utterly
impracticable. They were far below the brutes, as the latter show signs
of affection to those who are kind to them; while the natives, on the
contrary, are utterly obtuse to all feelings of gratitude. He described
the people as lying and deceitful to a superlative degree; the more they
receive the more they desire, but in return they will do nothing.

Twenty or thirty of these disgusting, ash-smeared, stark naked brutes,
armed with clubs of hard wood brought to a point, were lying idly about
the station. The mission having given up the White Nile as a total
failure, Herr Morlang sold the whole village and mission-station to
Koorshid Aga this morning for 3,000 piastres, 30 pounds! I purchased a
horse of the missionaries for 1,000 piastres, which I christened
"Priest" as coming from the mission; he is a good-looking animal, and
has been used to the gun, as the unfortunate Baron Harnier rode him
buffalo-hunting. This good sportsman was a Prussian nobleman, who with
two European attendants, had for some time amused himself by collecting
objects of natural history and shooting in this neighbourhood. Both his
Europeans succumbed to marsh fever.

The end of Baron Harnier was exceedingly tragic. Having wounded a
buffalo, the animal charged a native attendant and threw him to the
ground; Baron Harnier was unloaded, and with great courage he attacked
the buffalo with the butt-end of his rifle to rescue the man then
beneath the animal's horns. The buffalo left the man and turned upon his
new assailant. The native, far from assisting his master, who had thus
jeopardized his life to save him, fled from the spot. The unfortunate
baron was found by the missionaries trampled and gored into an
undistinguishable mass; and the dead body of the buffalo was found at a
short distance, the animal having been mortally wounded. I went to see
the grave of this brave Prussian, who had thus sacrificed so noble a
life for so worthless an object as a cowardly native. It had been well
cared for by the kind hands of the missionaries and was protected by
thorn bushes laid around it, but I fear it will be neglected now that
the mission has fallen into unholy hands. It is a pitiable sight to
witness the self-sacrifice that many noble men have made in these
frightful countries without any good results. Near to the grave of Baron
Harnier are those of several members of the mission, who have left their
bones in this horrid land, while not one convert has been made from the
mission of St. Croix.

The river divides into two branches, about five miles above this
station, forming an island. Upon this is a fishing-station of the
natives; the native name of the spot is Pomone. The country is swampy
and scantily covered with bushes and small trees, but no actual timber.
As usual, the entire country is dead flat; it abounds with elephants a
few miles inland. Herr Morlang describes the whole of the White Nile
traders as a mere colony of robbers, who pillage and shoot the natives
at discretion. On the opposite side of the river there is a large
neglected garden, belonging to the mission. Although the soil is
extremely rich, neither grapes nor pomegranate will succeed; they bear
fruit, but of a very acrid flavour. Dates blossom, but will not fruit.

Jan. 25th.--Started at 7 A.M. Course S.E.

Jan. 26th.--The Bohr tribe on the east bank. No wind. The current
nearly three miles per hour. The river about a hundred and twenty yards
wide in clear water. Marshes and flats, as usual. Thermometer throughout
the journey, at 6 A.M., 68 degrees Fahr., and at noon 86 to 93 degrees

Jan. 27th.--One day is a repetition of the preceding.

Jan. 28th.--Passed two bivouacs of the Aliab tribe, with great herds
of cattle on the west bank. The natives appeared to be friendly, dancing
and gesticulating as the boats passed. The White Nile tribe not only
milk their cows, but they bleed their cattle periodically, and boil the
blood for food. Driving a lance into a vein in the neck, they bleed the
animal copiously, which operation is repeated about once a month.

Jan. 29th.--Passed a multitude of cattle and natives on a spot on the
right bank, in clouds of smoke as a "chasse des moustiques." They make
tumuli of dung, which are constantly on fire, fresh fuel being
continually added, to drive away the mosquitoes. Around these heaps the
cattle crowd in hundreds, living with the natives in the smoke. By
degrees the heaps of ashes become about eight feet high; they are then
used as sleeping-places and watch-stations by the natives, who, rubbing
themselves all over with the ashes, have a ghastly and devilish
appearance that is indescribable. The country is covered with old tumuli
formed in this manner. A camp may contain twenty or thirty such, in
addition to fresh heaps that are constantly burning. Fires of cow-dung
are also made on the leveled tops of the old heaps, and bundles of green
canes, about sixteen feet high, are planted on the summit; these wave in
the breeze like a plume of ostrich feathers, and give shade to the
people during the heat of the day.

JAN. 30TH.--Arrived at the "Shir" tribe. The men are, as usual in
these countries, armed with well-made ebony clubs, two lances, a bow
(always strung), and a bundle of arrows; their hands are completely full
of weapons; and they carry a neatly-made miniature stool slung upon
their backs, in addition to an immense pipe. Thus a man carries all that
be most values about his person. The females in this tribe are not
absolutely naked; like those of the Kytch, they wear small lappets of
tanned leather as broad as the hand; at the back of the belt, which
supports this apron, is a tail which reaches to the lower portions of
the thighs; this tail is formed of finely-cut strips of leather, and
the costume has doubtless been the foundation for the report I had
received from the Arabs, "that a tribe in Central Africa had tails like
horses." The women carry their children very conveniently in a skin
slung from their shoulders across the back, and secured by a thong round
the waist; in this the young savage sits delightfully. The huts
throughout all tribes are circular, with entrances so low that the
natives creep both in and out upon their hands and knees. The men wear
tufts of cock's feathers on the crown of the head; and their favorite
attitude, when standing, is on one leg while leaning on a spear, the
foot of the raised leg resting on the inside of the other knee. Their
arrows are about three feet long, without feathers, and pointed with
hard wood instead of iron, the metal being scarce among the Shir tribe.
The most valuable article of barter for this tribe is the iron hoe
generally used among the White Nile negroes. In form it is precisely
similar to the "ace of spades." The finery most prized by the women are
polished iron anklets, which they wear in such numbers that they reach
nearly half-way up the calf of the leg; the tinkling of these rings is
considered to be very enticing, but the sound reminds one of the
clanking of convicts' fetters.

All the tribes of the White Nile have their harvest of the lotus seed.
There are two species of water-lily--the large white flower, and a
small variety. The seed-pod of the white lotus is like an unblown
artichoke, containing a number of light red grains equal in size to
mustard-seed, but shaped like those of the poppy, and similar to them in
flavour, being sweet and nutty. The ripe pods are collected and strung
upon sharp-pointed reeds about four feet in length. When thus threaded
they are formed into large bundles, and carried from the river to the
villages, where they are dried in the sun, and stored for use. The seed
is ground into flour, and made into a kind of porridge. The women of the
Shir tribe are very clever at manufacturing baskets and mats from the
leaf of the dome palm. They also make girdles and necklaces of minute
pieces of river mussel shells threaded upon the hair of the giraffe's
tail. This is a work of great time, and the effect is about equal to a
string of mother-of-pearl buttons.

Jan. 31st.--At 1.15 P.M. sighted Gebel Lardo, bearing S. 30 degrees
west. This is the first mountain we have seen, and we are at last near
our destination, Gondokoro. I observed to-day a common sand-piper
sitting on the head of a hippopotamus; when he disappeared under water
the bird skimmed over the surface, hovering near the spot until the
animal reappeared, when he again settled.

Feb. 1st.--The character of the river has changed. The marshes have
given place to dry ground; the banks are about four feet above the
water-level, and well wooded; the country having the appearance of an
orchard, and being thickly populated. The natives thronged to the boats,
being astonished at the camels. At one village during the voyage the
natives examined the donkeys with great curiosity, thinking that they
were the oxen of our country, and that we were bringing them to exchange
for ivory.

Feb. 2nd--The mountain Lardo is about twelve miles west of the river.
At daybreak we sighted the mountains near Gondokoro, bearing due south.
As yet I have seen no symptoms of hostility in this country. I cannot
help, thinking that the conduct of the natives depends much upon that of
the traveller. Arrived at Gondokoro. By astronomical observation I
determined the latitude, 4 degrees 55 minutes North, Longitude 31
degrees 46 minutes East. Gondokoro is a great improvement upon the
interminable marshes; the soil is firm and raised about twenty feet
above the river level. Distant mountains relieve the eye accustomed to
the dreary flats of the White Nile; and evergreen trees scattered over
the face of the landscape, with neat little native villages beneath
their shade, form a most inviting landing-place after a long and tedious
voyage. This spot was formerly a mission-station. There remain to this
day the ruins of the brick establishment and church, and the wreck of
what was once a garden; groves of citron and lime-trees still exist, the
only signs that an attempt at civilization has been made--"seed cast
upon the wayside." There is no town. Gondokoro is merely a station of
the ivory traders, occupied for about two months during the year, after
which time it is deserted, when the annual boats return to Khartoum and
the remaining expeditions depart for the interior. A few miserable grass
huts are all that dignify the spot with a name. The climate is unhealthy
and hot. The thermometer from 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit at noon in the

I landed the animals from the boats in excellent condition all rejoicing
in the freedom of open pasturage.



All were thankful that the river voyage was concluded; the tedium of the
White Nile will have been participated by the reader, upon whom I have
inflicted the journal, as no other method of description could possibly
convey an idea of the general desolation.

Having landed all my stores, and housed my corn in some granaries
belonging to Koorshid Aga, I took a receipt from him for the quantity,
and gave him an order to deliver one-half from my depot to Speke and
Grant, should they arrive at Gondokoro during my absence in the
interior. I was under an apprehension that they might arrive by some
route without my knowledge, while I should be penetrating south.

There were a great number of men at Gondokoro belonging to the various
traders, who looked upon me with the greatest suspicion; they could not
believe that simple travelling was my object, and they were shortly
convinced that I was intent upon espionage in their nefarious ivory
business and slave-hunting.

In conversing with the traders, and assuring them that my object was
entirely confined to a search for the Nile sources, and an inquiry for
Speke and Grant, I heard a curious report that had been brought down by
the natives from the interior, that at some great distance to the south
there were two white men who had been for a long time prisoners of a
sultan; and that these men had wonderful fireworks; that both had been
very ill, and that one had died. It was in vain that I endeavoured to
obtain some further clue to this exciting report. There was a rumour
that some native had a piece of wood with marks upon it that had
belonged to the white men; but upon inquiry I found that this account
was only a report given by some distant tribe. Nevertheless, I attached
great importance to the rumour, as there was no white man south of
Gondokoro engaged in the ivory trade; therefore there was a strong
probability that the report had some connexion with the existence of
Speke and Grant. I had heard, when at Khartoum, that the most advanced
trading station was about fifteen days' march from Gondokoro, and my
plan of operations had always projected a direct advance to that
station, where I had intended to leave all my heavy baggage in depot,
and to proceed from thence as a "point de depart" to the south. I now
understood that the party were expected to arrive at Gondokoro from that
station with ivory in a few days, and I determined to wait for their
arrival, and to return with them in company. Their ivory porters
returning, might carry my baggage, and thus save the backs of my
transport animals.

I accordingly amused myself at Gondokoro, exercising my horses in riding
about the neighbourhood, and studying the place and people. The native
dwellings are the perfection of cleanliness; the domicile of each family
is surrounded by a hedge of the impenetrable euphorbia, and the interior
of the enclosure generally consists of a yard neatly plastered with a
cement of ashes, cow-dung, and sand. Upon this cleanly-swept surface are
one or more huts surrounded by granaries of neat wicker-work, thatched,
resting upon raised platforms. The huts have projecting roofs in order
to afford a shade, and the entrance is usually about two feet high. When
a member of the family dies he is buried in the yard; a few ox-horns and
skulls are suspended on a pole above the spot, while the top of the pole
is ornamented with a bunch of cock's feathers. Every man carries his
weapons, pipe, and stool, the whole (except the stool) being held
between his legs when standing. These natives of Gondokoro are the Bari:
the men are well grown, the women are not prepossessing, but the
negro-type of thick lips and flat nose is wanting; their features are
good, and the woolly hair alone denotes the trace of negro blood. They
are tattooed upon the stomach, sides, and back, so closely, that it has
the appearance of a broad belt of fish-scales, especially when they are
rubbed with red ochre, which is the prevailing fashion. This pigment is
made of a peculiar clay, rich in oxide of iron, which, when burnt, is
reduced to powder, and then formed into lumps like pieces of soap; both
sexes anoint themselves with this ochre, formed into a paste by the
admixture of grease, giving themselves the appearance of new red bricks.
The only hair upon their persons is a small tuft upon the crown of the
head, in which they stick one or more feathers. The women are generally
free from hair, their heads being shaved. They wear a neat little
lappet, about six inches long, of beads, or of small iron rings, worked
like a coat of mail, in lieu of a fig-leaf, and the usual tail of fine
shreds of leather or twine, spun from indigenous cotton, pendant behind.
Both the lappet and tail are fastened on a belt which is worn round the
loins, like those in the Shir tribe; thus the toilette is completed at
once. It would be highly useful, could they only wag their tails to
whisk off the flies which are torments in this country.

The cattle are very small; the goats and sheep are quite Lilliputian,
but they generally give three at a birth, and thus multiply quickly. The
people of the country were formerly friendly, but the Khartoumers
pillage and murder them at discretion in all directions; thus, in
revenge, they will shoot a poisoned arrow at a stranger unless he is
powerfully escorted. The effect of the poison used for the arrow-heads
is very extraordinary. A man came to me for medical aid; five months ago
he bad been wounded by a poisoned arrow in the leg, below the calf, and
the entire foot had been eaten away by the action of the poison. The
bone rotted through just above the ankle, and the foot dropped off. The
most violent poison is the produce of the root of a tree, whose milky
juice yields a resin that is smeared upon the arrow. It is brought from
a great distance, from some country far west of Gondokoro. The juice of
the species of euphorbia, common in these countries, is also used for
poisoning arrows. Boiled to the consistence of tar, it is then smeared
upon the blade. The action of the poison is to corrode the flesh, which
loses its fiber, and drops away like jelly, after severe inflammation
and swelling. The arrows are barbed with diabolical ingenuity; some are
arranged with poisoned heads that fit into sockets; these detach from
the arrow on an attempt to withdraw them; thus the barbed blade, thickly
smeared with poison, remains in the wound, and before it can be cut out
the poison is absorbed by the system. Fortunately the natives are bad
archers. The bows are invariably made of the male bamboo, and are kept
perpetually strung; they are exceedingly stiff, but not very elastic,
and the arrows are devoid of feathers, being simple reeds or other light
wood, about three feet long, and slightly knobbed at the base as a hold
for the finger and thumb; the string is never drawn with the two
forefingers, as in most countries, but is simply pulled by holding the
arrow between the middle joint of the forefinger and the thumb. A stiff
bow drawn in this manner has very little power; accordingly the extreme
range seldom exceeds a hundred and ten yards.

The Bari tribe are very hostile, and are considered to be about the
worst of the White Nile. They have been so often defeated by the
traders' parties in the immediate neighborhood of Gondokoro, that they
are on their best behavior, while within half a mile of the station; but
it is not at all uncommon to be asked for beads as a tax for the right
of sitting under a shady tree, or for passing through the country. The
traders' people, in order to terrify them into submission, were in the
habit of binding them, hands and feet, and carrying them to the edge of
a cliff about thirty feet high, a little beyond the ruins of the old
mission-house: beneath this cliff the river boils in a deep eddy; into
this watery grave the victims were remorselessly hurled as food for
crocodiles. It appeared that this punishment was dreaded by the natives
more than the bullet or rope, and it was accordingly adopted by the
trading parties.

Upon my arrival at Gondokoro I was looked upon by all these parties as a
spy sent by the British Government. Whenever I approached the
encampments of the various traders, I heard the clanking of fetters
before I reached the station, as the slaves were being quickly driven
into hiding-places to avoid inspection. They were chained by two rings
secured round the ankles, and connected by three or four links. One of
these traders was a Copt, the father of the American Consul at Khartoum;
and, to my surprise, I saw the vessels full of brigands arrive at
Gondokoro, with the American flag flying at the mast-head.

Gondokoro was a perfect hell. It is utterly ignored by the Egyptian
authorities, although well known to be a colony of cut-throats. Nothing
would be easier than to send a few officers and two hundred men from
Khartoum to form a military government, and thus impede the slave-trade;
but a bribe from the traders to the authorities is sufficient to insure
an uninterrupted asylum for any amount of villany. The camps were full
of slaves, and the Bari natives assured me that there were large depots
of slaves in the interior belonging to the traders that would be marched
to Gondokoro for shipment to the Soudan a few hours after my departure.
I was the great stumbling-block to the trade, and my presence at
Gondokoro was considered as an unwarrantable intrusion upon a locality
sacred to slavery and iniquity. There were about six hundred of the
traders' people at Gondokoro, whose time was passed in drinking,
quarrelling, and ill-treating the slaves. The greater number were in a
constant state of intoxication, and when in such a state, it was their
invariable custom to fire off their guns in the first direction prompted
by their drunken instincts; thus, from morning till night, guns were
popping in all quarters, and the bullets humming through the air
sometimes close to our ears, and on more than one occasion they struck
up the dust at my feet. Nothing was more probable than a ball through
the head by ACCIDENT, which might have had the beneficial effect of
ridding the traders from a spy. A boy was sitting upon the gunwale of
one of the boats, when a bullet suddenly struck him in the head,
shattering the skull to atoms. NO ONE HAD DONE IT. The body fell into
the water, and the fragments of the skull were scattered on the deck.

After a few days' detention at Gondokoro, I saw unmistakeable signs of
discontent among my men, who had evidently been tampered with by the
different traders' parties. One evening several of the most disaffected
came to me with a complaint that they had not enough meat, and that they
must be allowed to make a razzia upon the cattle of the natives to
procure some oxen. This demand being of course refused, they retired,
muttering in an insolent manner their determination of stealing cattle
with or without my permission. I said nothing at the time, but early on
the following morning I ordered the drum to beat, and the men to fall
in. I made them a short address, reminding them of the agreement made at
Khartoum to follow me faithfully, and of the compact that had been
entered into, that they were neither to indulge in slave-hunting nor in
cattle-stealing. The only effect of my address was a great outbreak of
insolence on the part of the ringleader of the previous evening. This
fellow, named Eesur, was an Arab, and his impertinence was so violent,
that I immediately ordered him twenty-five lashes, as an example to the

Upon the vakeel (Saati) advancing to seize him, there was a general
mutiny. Many of the men threw down their guns and seized sticks, and
rushed to the rescue of their tall ringleader. Saati was a little man,
and was perfectly helpless. Here was an escort: these were the men upon
whom I was to depend in hours of difficulty and danger on an expedition
in unknown regions; these were the fellows that I had considered to be
reduced "from wolves to lambs!"

I was determined not to be done, and to insist upon the punishment of
the ringleader. I accordingly went towards him with the intention of
seizing him; but he, being backed by upwards of forty men, had the
impertinence to attack me, rushing forward with a fury that was
ridiculous. To stop his blow, and to knock him into the middle of the
crowd, was not difficult; and after a rapid repetition of the dose, I
disabled him, and seizing him by the throat, I called to my vakeel Saati
for a rope to bind him, but in an instant I had a crowd of men upon me
to rescue their leader. How the affair would have ended I cannot say;
but as the scene lay within ten yards of my boat, my wife, who was ill
with fever in the cabin, witnessed the whole affray, and seeing me
surrounded, she rushed out, and in a few moments she was in the middle
of the crowd, who at that time were endeavoring to rescue my prisoner.
Her sudden appearance had a curious effect, and calling upon several of
the least mutinous to assist, she very pluckily made her way up to me.
Seizing the opportunity of an indecision that was for the moment evinced
by the crowd, I shouted to the drummer boy to beat the drum. In an
instant the drum beat, and at the top of my voice I ordered the men to
"fall in." It is curious how mechanically an order is obeyed if given at
the right moment, even in the midst of mutiny. Two-thirds of the men
fell in, and formed in line, while the remainder retreated with the
ringleader, Eesur, whom they led away, declaring that he was badly hurt.
The affair ended in my insisting upon all forming in line, and upon the
ringleader being brought forward. In this critical moment Mrs. Baker,
with great tact, came forward and implored me to forgive him if he
kissed my hand and begged for pardon. This compromise completely won the
men, who, although a few minutes before in open mutiny, now called upon
their ringleader Eesur to apologize, and that all would be right. I made
them rather a bitter speech, and dismissed them.

From that moment I knew that my expedition was fated. This outbreak was
an example of what was to follow. Previous to leaving Khartoum I had
felt convinced that I could not succeed with such villains for escort as
these Khartoumers: thus I had applied to the Egyptian authorities for a
few troops, but had been refused. I was now in an awkward position. All
my men had received five months' wages in advance, according to the
custom of the White Nile; thus I had no control over them. There were no
Egyptian authorities in Gondokoro; it was a nest of robbers; and my men
had just exhibited so pleasantly their attachment to me, and their
fidelity. There was no European beyond Gondokoro, thus I should be the
only white man among this colony of wolves; and I had in perspective a
difficult and uncertain path, where the only chance of success lay in
the complete discipline of my escort, and the perfect organization of
the expedition. After the scene just enacted I felt sure that my escort
would give me more cause for anxiety than the acknowledged hostility of
the natives.

I made arrangements with a Circassian trader, Koorshid Aga, for the
purchase of a few oxen, and a fat beast was immediately slaughtered for
the men. They were shortly in the best humour, feasting upon masses of
flesh cut in strips and laid for a few minutes upon the embers, while
the regular meal was being prepared. They were now almost affectionate,
vowing that they would follow me to the end of the world; while the late
ringleader, in spite of his countenance being rather painted in the late
row, declared that no man would be so true as himself, and that every
"arrow should pass through him before it should reach me" in the event
of a conflict with the natives. A very slight knowledge of human nature
was required to foresee the future with such an escort:--if love and
duty were dependent upon full bellies, mutiny and disorder would appear
with hard fare. However, by having parade every morning at a certain
hour, I endeavoured to establish a degree of regularity. I had been
waiting at Gondokoro twelve days, expecting the arrival of Debono's
party from the south, with whom I wished to return. Suddenly, on the
15th February, I heard the rattle of musketry at a great distance, and a
dropping fire from the south. To give an idea of the moment I must
extract verbatim from my journal as written at the time.

"Guns firing in the distance; Debono's ivory porters arriving, for whom
I have waited. My men rushed madly to my boat, with the report that two
white men were with them who had come from the SEA! Could they be Speke
and Grant? Off I ran, and soon met them in reality. Hurrah for old
England! they had come from the Victoria N'yanza, from which the Nile
springs .... The mystery of ages solved. With my pleasure of meeting
them is the one disappointment, that I had not met them farther on the
road in my search for them; however, the satisfaction is, that my
previous arrangements had been such as would have insured my finding
them had they been in a fix .... My projected route would have brought
me vis-a-vis with them, as they had come from the lake by the course I
had proposed to take .... All my men perfectly mad with excitement:
firing salutes as usual with ball cartridge, they shot one of my
donkeys; a melancholy sacrifice as an offering at the completion of this
geographical discovery."

When I first met them they were walking along the bank of the river
towards my boats. At a distance of about a hundred yards I recognised my
old friend Speke, and with a heart beating with joy I took off my cap
and gave a welcome hurrah! as I ran towards him. For the moment he did
not recognize me; ten years' growth of beard and moustache had worked a
change; and as I was totally unexpected, my sudden appearance in the
center of Africa appeared to him incredible. I hardly required an
introduction to his companion, as we felt already acquainted, and after
the transports of this happy meeting we walked together to my diahbiah;
my men surrounding us with smoke and noise by keeping up an unremitting
fire of musketry the whole way. We were shortly seated on deck under the
awning, and such rough fare as could be hastily prepared was set before
these two ragged, careworn specimens of African travel, whom I looked
upon with feelings of pride as my own countrymen. As a good ship arrives
in harbor, battered and torn by a long and stormy voyage, yet sound in
her frame and seaworthy to the last, so both these gallant travelers
arrived at Gondokoro. Speke appeared the more worn of the two; he was
excessively lean, but in reality he was in good tough condition; he had
walked the whole way from Zanzibar, never having once ridden during that
wearying march. Grant was in honourable rags; his bare knees projecting
through the remnants of trowsers that were an exhibition of rough
industry in tailor's work. He was looking tired and feverish, but both
men had a fire in the eye that showed the spirit that had led them

They wished to leave Gondokoro as soon as possible, en route for
England, but delayed their departure until the moon should be in a
position for an observation for determining the longitude. My boats were
fortunately engaged by me for five months, thus Speke and Grant could
take charge of them to Khartoum.

At the first blush on meeting them I had considered my expedition as
terminated by having met them, and by their having accomplished the
discovery of the Nile source; but upon my congratulating them with all
my heart, upon the honour they had so nobly earned, Speke and Grant with
characteristic candour and generosity gave me a map of their route,
showing that they had been unable to complete the actual exploration of
the Nile, and that a most important portion still remained to be
determined. It appeared that in N. lat. 2 degrees 17 minutes, they had
crossed the Nile, which they had tracked from the Victoria Lake; but the
river, which from its exit from that lake had a northern course, turned
suddenly to the WEST from Karuma Falls (the point at which they crossed
it at lat. 2 degrees 17 minutes). They did not see the Nile again until
they arrived in N. lat. 3 deg. 32 min., which was then flowing from the
W.S.W. The natives and the King of Unyoro (Kamrasi) had assured them
that the Nile from the Victoria N'yanza, which they had crossed at
Karuma, flowed westward for several days' journey, and at length fell
into a large lake called the Luta N'zige; that this lake came from the
south, and that the Nile on entering the northern extremity almost
immediately made its exit, and as a navigable river continued its course
to the north, through the Koshi and Madi countries. Both Speke and Grant
attached great importance to this lake Luta N'zige, and the former was
much annoyed that it had been impossible for them to carry out the
exploration. He foresaw that stay-at-home geographers, who, with a
comfortable armchair to sit in, travel so easily with their fingers on a
map, would ask him why he had not gone from such a place to such a
place? why he had not followed the Nile to the Luta N'zige lake, and
from the lake to Gondokoro? As it happened, it was impossible for Speke
and Grant to follow the Nile from Karuma:--the tribes were fighting
with Kamrasi, and no strangers could have got through the country.
Accordingly they procured their information most carefully, completed
their map, and laid down the reported lake in its supposed position,
showing the Nile as both influent and effluent precisely as had been
explained by the natives.

Speke expressed his conviction that the Luta N'zige must be a second
source of the Nile, and that geographers would be dissatisfied that he
had not explored it. To me this was most gratifying. I had been much
disheartened at the idea that the great work was accomplished, and that
nothing remained for exploration; I even said to Speke, "Does not one
leaf of the laurel remain for me?" I now heard that the field was not
only open, but that an additional interest was given to the exploration
by the proof that the Nile flowed out of one great lake, the Victoria,
but that it evidently must derive an additional supply from an unknown
lake as it entered it at the NORTHERN extremity, while the body of the
lake came from the south. The fact of a great body of water such as the
Luta N'zige extending in a direct line from south to north, while the
general system of drainage of the Nile was from the same direction,
showed most conclusively, that the Luta N'zige, if it existed in the
form assumed, must have an important position in the basin of the Nile.

My expedition had naturally been rather costly, and being in excellent
order it would have been heartbreaking to have returned fruitlessly. I
therefore arranged immediately for my departure, and Speke most kindly
wrote in my journal such instructions as might be useful. I therefore
copy them verbatim:

"Before you leave this be sure you engage two men, one speaking the Bari
or Madi language, and one speaking Kinyoro, to be your interpreters
through the whole journey, for there are only two distinct families of
languages in the country, though of course some dialectic differences,
which can be easily overcome by anybody who knows the family language.
. . . Now, as you are bent on first going to visit Kamrasi M'Kamma, or
King of Unyoro, and then to see as much of the western countries
bordering on the little Luta N'zige, or `dead locust' lake, as possible,
go in company with the ivory hunters across the Asua river to Apuddo
eight marches, and look for game to the east of that village. Two
marches further on will bring you to Panyoro, where there are antelopes
in great quantity; and in one march more the Turks' farthest outpost,
Faloro, will be reached, where you had better form a depot, and make a
flying trip across the White Nile to Koshi for the purpose of inquiring
what tribes live to west and south of it, especially of the Wallegga;
how the river comes from the south, and where it is joined by the little
Luta N'zige. Inquire also after the country of Chopi, and what
difficulties or otherwise you would have to overcome if you followed up
the left bank of the White river to Kamrasi's; because, if found easy,
it would be far nearer and better to reach Kamrasi that way than going
through the desert jungles of Ukidi, as we went. This is the way I
should certainly go myself, but if you do not like the look of it,
preserve your information well; and after returning to Faloro, make Koki
per Chougi in two marches, and tell old Chougi you wish to visit his
M'Kamma Kamrasi, for Chougi was appointed Governor-general of that place
by Kamrasi to watch the Wakidi who live between his residence and Chopi,
which is the next country you will reach after passing through the
jungles of Ukidi and crossing the Nile below Karuma Falls. Arrived at
Chopi, inquire for the residence of the Katikiro or commander-in-chief,
who will show you great respect, give you cows and pombe, and send
messengers on to Kamrasi to acquaint him of your intention to visit him.
This is the richest part of Kamrasi's possessions, and by a little
inquiry you will learn much about the lake. Kamrasi's brother Rionga
lives on a river island within one march of this. They are deadly
enemies and always fighting, so if you made a mistake and went to
Rionga's first, as the Turks would wish you to do, all travelling in
Unyoro would be cut off. Tell the Katikiro all your plans frankly, and
remark earnestly upon my great displeasure at Kamrasi's having detained
me so long in his country without deigning to see me, else he may be
assured no other white man will ever take the trouble to see him. We
came down the river in boats from Kamrasi's to Chopi, but the boatmen
gave much trouble, therefore it would be better for you to go overland.
Kamrasi will most likely send Kidgwiga, an excellent officer, to escort
you to his palace, but if he does not, ask after him; you could not have
a better man.

"Arrived at Kamrasi's, insist upon seeing all his fat wives and
brothers. Find out all you can about his pedigree, and ask for leave to
follow up the lake from its JUNCTION with the Nile to Utumbi, and then
crossing to its northern bank follow it down to Ullegga and Koshi. If
you are so fortunate as to reach Utumbi, and don't wish to go farther
south, inquire well about Ruanda, the M'Fumbiro mountains, if there is
any copper in Ruanda, and whether or not the people of those countries
receive Simbi (the cowrie shell) or any other articles of merchandise
from the west coast, guarding well that no confusion is made with the
trade of Karagwe, for Rumanika sends men to Utumbi ivory-hunting
continually. "Remember well that the Wahuma are most likely Gallas; this
question is most interesting, and the more you can gather of their
history, since they crossed the White Nile, the better. Formerly Unyoro,
Uganda, and Uddhu were all united in one vast kingdom called Kittara,
but this name is now only applied to certain portions of that kingdom.

"Nothing is known of the Mountains of the Moon to the westward of
Ruanda. In Unyoro the king will feed you; beyond that I suspect you will
have to buy food with beads."

Such was the information most kindly written by Speke, which, in
addition to a map drawn by Captain Grant, and addressed to the Secretary
of the Royal Geographical Society, was to be my guide in the important
exploration resolved upon. I am particular in publishing these details,
in order to show the perfect freedom from jealousy of both Captains
Speke and Grant. Unfortunately, in most affairs of life, there is not
only fair emulation, but ambition is too often combined with intense
jealousy of others. Had this miserable feeling existed in the minds of
Speke and Grant, they would have returned to England with the sole
honour of discovering the source of the Nile; but in their true devotion
to geographical science and especially to the specific object of their
expedition they gave me all information to assist in the completion of
the great problem--the "Nile Sources."

We were all ready to start. Speke and Grant, an their party of
twenty-two people, for Egypt, and I in the opposite direction. At this
season there were many boats at Gondokoro belonging to the traders'
parties, among which were four belonging to Mr. Petherick, three of
which were open cargo boats, and one remarkably nice diahbiah, named the
"Kathleen," that was waiting for Mrs. Petherick and her husband, who
were supposed to be at their trading station, the Niambara, about
seventy miles west of Gondokoro; but no accounts had been heard of them.
On the 20th February they suddenly arrived from the Niambara, with their
people and ivory and were surprised at seeing so large a party of
English in so desolate a spot. It is a curious circumstance, that
although many Europeans had been as far south as Gondokoro, I was the
first Englishman that had ever reached it. We now formed a party of

Gondokoro has a poor and sandy soil, so unproductive that corn is in the
greatest scarcity and is always brought from Khartoum by the annual
boats for the supply of the traders' people, who congregate there from
the interior, in the months of January and February, to deliver the
ivory for shipment to Khartoum. Corn is seldom or never less than eight
times the price at Khartoum; this is a great drawback to the country, as
each trading party that arrives with ivory from the interior brings with
it five or six hundred native porters, all of whom have to be fed during
their stay at Gondokoro, and in many cases, in times of scarcity, they
starve. This famine has given a bad name to the locality, and it is
accordingly difficult to procure porters from the interior, who
naturally fear starvation.

I was thus extremely sorry that I was obliged to refuse a supply of corn
to Mr. Petherick upon his application--an act of necessity, but not of
ill-nature upon my part, as I was obliged to leave a certain quantity in
depot at Gondokoro, in case I should be driven back from the interior,
in the event of which, without a supply in depot, utter starvation would
have been the fate of my party. Mr. Petherick accordingly despatched one
of his boats to the Shir tribe down the White Nile to purchase corn in
exchange for molotes (native hoes). The boat returned with corn on the
11th of March. On the 26th February, Speke and Grant sailed from
Gondokoro. Our hearts were too full to say more than a short "God bless
you!" They had won their victory; my work lay all before me. I watched
their boat until it turned the corner, and wished them in my heart all
honor for their great achievement. I trusted to sustain the name they
had won for English perseverance, and I looked forward to meeting them
again in dear old England, when I should have completed the work we had
so warmly planned together.



A DAY before the departure of Speke and Grant from Gondokoro, an event
occurred which appeared as a bad omen to the superstitions of my men. I
had ordered the diahbiah to be prepared for sailing: thus, the cargo
having been landed and the boat cleared and washed, we were sitting in
the cabin, when a sudden explosion close to the windows startled us from
our seats, and the consternation of a crowd of men who were on the bank,
showed that some accident had happened. I immediately ran out, and found
that the servants had laid all my rifles upon a mat upon the ground, and
that one of the men had walked over the guns; his foot striking the
hammer of one of the No. 10 Reilly rifles, had momentarily raised it
from the nipple, and an instantaneous explosion was the consequence. The
rifle was loaded for elephants, with seven drachms of powder. There was
a quantity of luggage most fortunately lying before the muzzle, but the
effects of the discharge were extraordinary. The ball struck the steel
scabbard of a sword, tearing off the ring; it then passed obliquely
through the stock of a large rifle, and burst through the
shoulder-plate; entering a packing-case of inch-deal, it passed through
it and through the legs of a man who was sitting at some distance, and
striking the hip-bone of another man, who was sitting at some paces
beyond, it completely smashed both hips, and fortunately being expended,
it lodged in the body. Had it not been for the first objects happily in
the route of the ball, it would have killed several men, as they were
sitting in a crowd exactly before the muzzle.

Dr. Murie, who had accompanied Mr. Petherick, very kindly paid the
wounded men every attention, but he with the smashed hip died in a few
hours, apparently without pain.

After the departure of Speke and Grant, I moved my tent to the high
ground above the river; the effluvium from the filth of some thousands
of people was disgusting, and fever was prevalent in all quarters. Both
of us were suffering; also Mr. and Mrs. Petherick, and many of my men,
one of whom died. My animals were all healthy, but the donkeys and
camels were attacked by a bird, about the size of a thrush, which caused
them great uneasiness. This bird is of a greenish-brown colour, with a
powerful red beak, and excessively strong claws. It is a perfect pest to
the animals, and positively eats them into holes. The original object of
the bird in settling upon the animal is to search for vermin, but it is
not contented with the mere insects, and industriously pecks holes in
all parts of the animal, more especially on the back. A wound once
established, adds to the attraction, and the unfortunate animal is so
pestered that it has no time to eat. I was obliged to hire little boys
to watch the donkeys, and to drive off these plagues; but so determined
and bold were the birds, that I have constantly seen them run under the
body of the donkey, clinging to the belly with their feet, and thus
retreating to the opposite side of the animal when chased by the
watch-boys. In a few days my animals were full of wounds, excepting the
horses, whose long tails were effectual whisks. Although the temperature
was high, 95 degrees Fahr., the wind was frequently cold at about three
o'clock in the morning, and one of my horses, "Priest," that I had
lately purchased of the Mission, became paralysed, and could not rise
from the ground. After several days' endeavours to cure him, I was
obliged to shoot him, as the poor animal could not eat.

I now weighed all my baggage, and found that I had fifty-four cantars
(100 lbs. each). The beads, copper, and ammunition were the terrible
onus. I therefore applied to Mahommed, the vakeel of Andrea Debono, who
had escorted Speke and Grant, and I begged his co-operation in the
expedition. These people had brought down a large quantity of ivory from
the interior, and had therefore a number of porters who would return
empty-handed; I accordingly arranged with Mahommed for fifty porters,
who would much relieve the backs of my animals from Gondokoro to the
station at Faloro, about twelve days' march. At Faloro I intended to
leave my heavy baggage in depot, and to proceed direct to Kamrasi's
country. I promised Mahommed that I would use my influence in all new
countries that I might discover, to open a road for his ivory trade,
provided that he would agree to conduct it by legitimate purchase, and I
gave him a list of the quality of beads most desirable for Kamrasi's
country, according to the description I had received from Speke.

Mahommed promised to accompany me, not only to his camp at Faloro, but
throughout the whole of my expedition, provided that I would assist him
in procuring ivory, and that I would give him a handsome present. All
was agreed upon, and my own men appeared in high spirits at the prospect
of joining so large a party as that of Mahommed, which mustered about
two hundred men.

At that time I really placed dependence upon the professions of Mahommed
and his people; they had just brought Speke and Grant with them, and had
received from them presents of a first-class double-barrelled gun and
several valuable rifles. I had promised not only to assist them in their
ivory expeditions, but to give them something very handsome in addition,
and the fact of my having upwards of forty men as escort was also an
introduction, as they would be an addition to the force, which is a
great advantage in hostile countries. Everything appeared to be in good
train, but I little knew the duplicity of these Arab scoundrels. At the
very moment that they were most friendly, they were plotting to deceive
me, and to prevent me from entering the country. They knew, that should
I penetrate the interior, the ivory trade of the White Nile would be no
longer a mystery, and that the atrocities of the slave trade would be
exposed, and most likely be terminated by the intervention of European
Powers; accordingly they combined to prevent my advance, and to
overthrow my expedition completely. The whole of the men belonging to
the various traders were determined that no Englishman should penetrate
into the country; accordingly they fraternised with my escort, and
persuaded them that I was a Christian dog, that it was a disgrace for a
Mahommedan to serve; that they would be starved in my service, as I
would not allow them to steal cattle; that they would have no slaves;
and that I should lead them--God knew where--to the sea, from whence
Speke and Grant had started; that they had left Zanzibar with two
hundred men, and had only arrived at Gondokoro with eighteen, thus the
remainder must have been killed by the natives on the road; that if they
followed me, and arrived at Zanzibar, I should find a ship waiting to
take me to England, and I should leave them to die in a strange country.
Such were the reports circulated to prevent my men from accompanying me,
and it was agreed that Mahommed should fix a day for our pretended start
IN COMPANY, but that he would in reality start a few days before the
time appointed; and that my men should mutiny, and join his party in
cattle-stealing and slave-hunting. This was the substance of the plot
thus carefully concocted.

My men evinced a sullen demeanour, neglected all orders, and I plainly
perceived a settled discontent upon their general expression. The
donkeys and camels were allowed to stray, and were daily missing, and
recovered with difficulty; the luggage was overrun with white ants
instead of being attended to every morning; the men absented themselves
without leave, and were constantly in the camps of the different
traders. I was fully prepared for some difficulty, but I trusted that
when once on the march I should be able to get them under discipline.
Among my people were two blacks: one, "Richarn," already described as
having been brought up by the Austrian Mission at Khartoum; the other, a
boy of twelve years old, "Saat." As these were the only really faithful
members of the expedition, it is my duty to describe them. Richarn was
an habitual drunkard, but he had his good points; he was honest, and
much attached to both master and mistress. He had been with me for some
months, and was a fair sportsman, and being of an entirely different
race to the Arabs, he kept himself apart from them, and fraternised with
the boy Saat.

Saat was a boy that would do no evil; he was honest to a superlative
degree, and a great exception to the natives of this wretched country.
He was a native of "Fertit," and was minding his father's goats, when a
child of about six years old, at the time of his capture by the Baggera
Arabs. He described vividly how men on camels suddenly appeared while he
was in the wilderness with his flock, and how he was forcibly seized and
thrust into a large gum sack, and slung upon the back of a camel. Upon
screaming for help, the sack was opened, and an Arab threatened him with
a knife should he make the slightest noise. Thus quieted, he was carried
hundreds of miles through Kordofan to Dongola on the Nile, at which
place he was sold to slave-dealers, and taken to Cairo to be sold to the
Egyptian government as a drummer-boy. Being too young he was rejected,
and while in the dealer's hands he heard from another slave, of the
Austrian Mission at Cairo, that would protect him could he only reach
their asylum. With extraordinary energy for a child of six years old, he
escaped from his master, and made his way to the Mission, where he was
well received, and to a certain extent disciplined and taught as much of
the Christian religion as he could understand. In company with a branch
establishment of the Mission, he was subsequently located at Khartoum,
and from thence was sent up the White Nile to a Mission-station in the
Shillook country. The climate of the White Nile destroyed thirteen
missionaries in the short space of six months, and the boy Saat returned
with the remnant of the party to Khartoum, and was re-admitted into the
Mission. The establishment was at that time swarming with little black
boys from the various White Nile tribes, who repaid the kindness of the
missionaries by stealing everything they could lay their hands upon. At
length the utter worthlessness of the boys, their moral obtuseness, and
the apparent impossibility of improving them, determined the chief of
the Mission to purge his establishment from such imps, and they were
accordingly turned out. Poor little Saat, the one grain of gold amidst
the mire, shared the same fate.

It was about a week before our departure from Khartoum that Mrs. Baker
and I were at tea in the middle of the court-yard, when a miserable boy
about twelve years old came uninvited to her side, and knelt down in the
dust at her feet. There was something so irresistibly supplicating in
the attitude of the child, that the first impulse was to give him
something from the table. This was declined, and he merely begged to be
allowed to live with us, and to be our boy. He said that he had been
turned out of the Mission, merely because the Bari boys of the
establishment were thieves, and thus he suffered for their sins. I could
not believe it possible that the child had been actually turned out into
the streets, and believing that the fault must lay in the boy, I told
him I would inquire. In the meantime he was given in charge of the cook.

It happened that, on the following day, I was so much occupied that I
forgot to inquire at the Mission; and once more the cool hour of evening
arrived when, after the intense heat of the day, we sat at table in the
open court-yard; it was refreshed by being plentifully watered. Hardly
were we seated, when again the boy appeared, kneeling in the dust, with
his head lowered at my wife's feet, and imploring to be allowed to
follow us. It was in vain that I explained that we had a boy, and did
not require another; that the journey was long and difficult, and that
he might perhaps die. The boy feared nothing, and craved simply that he
might belong to us. He had no place of shelter, no food; had been stolen
from his parents, and was a helpless outcast.

The next morning, accompanied by Mrs. Baker, I went to the Mission and
heard that the boy had borne an excellent character, and that it must
have been BY MISTAKE that he had been turned out with the others. This
being conclusive, Saat was immediately adopted. Mrs. Baker was shortly
at work making him some useful clothes, and in an incredibly short time
a great change was effected. As he came from the hands of the
cook--after a liberal use of soap and water, and attired in trowsers,
blouse, and belt--the new boy appeared in a new character.

From that time he considered himself as belonging absolutely to his
mistress. He was taught by her to sew; Richarn instructed him in the
mysteries of waiting at table, and washing plates, &c.; while I taught
him to shoot, and gave him a light double-barrelled gun. This was his
greatest pride.

In the evening, when the day's work was done, Saat was allowed to sit
near his mistress; and he was at times amused and instructed by stories
of Europe and Europeans, and anecdotes from the Bible adapted to his
understanding, combined with the first principles of Christianity. He
was very ignorant, notwithstanding his advantages in the Mission, but he
possessed the first grand rudiments of all religion--honesty of purpose.
Although a child of only twelve years old, he was so perfectly
trustworthy that, at the period of our arrival at Gondokoro, he was more
to be depended upon than my vakeel, and nothing could occur among my
mutinous escort without the boy's knowledge: thus he reported the
intended mutiny of the people when there was no other means of
discovering it, and without Saat I should have had no information of
their plots.

Not only was the boy trustworthy, but he had an extraordinary amount of
moral in addition to physical courage. If any complaint were made, and
Saat was called as a witness--far from the shyness too often evinced
when the accuser is brought face to face with the accused--such was
Saat's proudest moment; and, no matter who the man might be, the boy
would challenge him, regardless of all consequences. We were very fond
of this boy; he was thoroughly good; and in that land of iniquity,
thousands of miles away from all except what was evil, there was a
comfort in having some one innocent and faithful, in whom to trust.

We were to start upon the following Monday. Mahommed had paid me a
visit, assuring me of his devotion, and begging me to have my baggage in
marching order, as he would send me fifty porters on the Monday, and we
would move off in company. At the very moment that he thus professed, he
was coolly deceiving me. He had arranged to start without me on the
Saturday, while he was proposing to march together on the Monday. This I
did not know at the time.

One morning I had returned to the tent after having, as usual, inspected
the transport animals, when I observed Mrs. Baker looking
extraordinarily pale, and immediately upon my arrival she gave orders
for the presence of the vakeel (headman). There was something in her
manner, so different to her usual calm, that I was utterly bewildered
when I heard her question the vakeel, "Whether the men were willing to
march?" Perfectly ready, was the reply. "Then order them to strike the
tent, and load the animals; we start this moment." The man appeared
confused, but not more so than I. Something was evidently on foot, but
what I could not conjecture. The vakeel wavered, and to my astonishment
I heard the accusation made against him, that, "during the night, the
whole of the escort had mutinously conspired to desert me, with my arms
and ammunition that were in their hands, and to fire simultaneously at
me should I attempt to disarm them." At first this charge was
indignantly denied until the boy Saat manfully stepped forward, and
declared that the conspiracy was entered into by the whole of the
escort, and that both he and Richarn, knowing that mutiny was intended,
had listened purposely to the conversation during the night; at daybreak
the boy reported the fact to his mistress. Mutiny, robbery, and murder
were thus deliberately determined.

I immediately ordered an angarep (travelling bedstead) to be placed
outside the tent under a large tree; upon this I laid five
double-barrelled guns loaded with buck shot, a revolver, and a naked
sabre as sharp as a razor. A sixth rifle I kept in my hands while I sat
upon the angarep, with Richarn and Saat both with double-barrelled guns
behind me. Formerly I had supplied each of my men with a piece of
mackintosh waterproof to be tied over the locks of their guns during the
march. I now ordered the drum to be beat, and all the men to form in
line in marching order, with their locks TIED UP IN THE WATERPROOF. I
requested Mrs. Baker to stand behind me, and to point out any man who
should attempt to uncover his locks, when I should give the order to lay
down their arms. The act of uncovering the locks would prove his
intention, in which event I intended to shoot him immediately, and take
my chance with the rest of the conspirators. I had quite determined that
these scoundrels should not rob me of my own arms and ammunition, if I
could prevent it.

The drum beat, and the vakeel himself went into the men's quarters, and
endeavoured to prevail upon them to answer the call. At length fifteen
assembled in line; the others were nowhere to be found. The locks of the
arms were secured by mackintosh as ordered; it was thus impossible for
any man to fire at me until he should have released his locks.

Upon assembling in line I ordered them immediately to lay down their
arms. This, with insolent looks of defiance, they refused to do. "Down
with your guns this moment," I shouted, "sons of dogs!" And at the sharp
click of the locks, as I quickly cocked the rifle that I held in my
hands, the cowardly mutineers widened their line and wavered. Some
retreated a few paces to the rear; others sat down, and laid their guns
on the ground; while the remainder slowly dispersed, and sat in twos, or
singly, under the various trees about eighty paces distant. Taking
advantage of their indecision, I immediately rose and. ordered my vakeel
and Richarn to disarm them as they were thus scattered. Foreseeing that
the time had arrived for actual physical force, the cowards capitulated,
agreeing to give up their arms and ammunition if I would give them their
written discharge. I disarmed them immediately, and the vakeel having
written a discharge for the fifteen men present, I wrote upon each paper
the word "mutineer" above my signature. None of them being able to read,
and this being written in English, they unconsciously carried the
evidence of their own guilt, which I resolved to punish should I ever
find them on my return to Khartoum.

Thus disarmed, they immediately joined other of the traders' parties.
These fifteen men were the "Jalyns" of my party, the remainder being
Dongolowas: both Arabs of the Nile, north of Khartoum. The Dongolowas
had not appeared when summoned by the drum, and my vakeel being of their
nation, I impressed upon him his responsibility for the mutiny, and that
he would end his days in prison at Khartoum should my expedition fail.

The boy Saat and Richarn now assured me that the men had intended to
fire at me, but that they were frightened at seeing us thus prepared,
but that I must not expect one man of the Dongolowas to be any more
faithful than the Jalyns. I ordered the vakeel to hunt up the men, and
to bring me their guns, threatening that if they refused I would shoot
any man that I found with one of my guns in his hands.

There was no time for mild measures. I had only Saat (a mere child), and
Richarn, upon whom I could depend; and I resolved with them alone to
accompany Mahommed's people to the interior, and to trust to good
fortune for a chance of proceeding.

I was feverish and ill with worry and anxiety, and I was lying down upon
my mat, when I suddenly heard guns firing in all directions, drums
beating, and the customary signs of either an arrival or departure of a
trading party. Presently a messenger arrived from Koorshid Aga, the
Circassian, to announce the departure of Mahommed's party without me;
and my vakeel appeared with a message from the same people, that "if I
followed on their road (my proposed route), they would fire upon me and
my party, as they would allow no English spies in their country."

My vakeel must have known of this preconcerted arrangement. I now went
to the Circassian, Koorshid, who had always been friendly personally. In
an interview with him, I made him understand that nothing should drive
me back to Khartoum, but that, as I was now helpless, I begged him to
give me ten elephant-hunters; that I would pay one-half of their wages,
and amuse myself in hunting and exploring in any direction until the
following year, he to take the ivory; by which time I could receive
thirty black soldiers from Khartoum, with whom I should commence my
journey to the lake. I begged him to procure me thirty good blacks at
Khartoum, and to bring them with him to Gondokoro next season, where I
arranged to meet him. This he agreed to, and I returned to my tent
delighted at a chance of escaping complete failure, although I thus
encountered a delay of twelve months before I could commence my
legitimate voyage. That accomplished, I was comparatively happy; the
disgrace of returning to Khartoum beaten would have been insupportable.

That night I slept well, and we sat under our shady tree by the
tent-door at sunrise on the following morning, drinking our coffee with
contentment. Presently, from a distance, I saw Koorshid, the Circassian,
approaching with his partner. Coffee and pipes were ready instanter:
both the boy Saat and Richarn looked upon him as a friend and ally, as
it was arranged that ten of his hunters were to accompany us. Before he
sipped his coffee he took me by the hand, and with great confusion of
manner he confessed that he was ashamed to come and visit me. "The
moment you left me yesterday," said he, "I called my vakeel and headman,
and ordered them to select the ten best men of my party to accompany
you; but instead of obeying me as usual, they declared that nothing
would induce them to serve under you; that you were a spy who would
report their proceedings to the Government, and that they should all be
ruined; that you were not only a spy on the slave-trade, but that you
were a madman, who would lead them into distant and unknown countries,
where both you and your wife and they would all be murdered by the
natives; thus they would mutiny immediately, should you be forced upon
them." My last hope was gone. Of course I thanked Koorshid for his
good-will, and explained that I should not think of intruding myself
upon his party, but that at the same time they should not drive me out
of the country. I had abundance of stores and ammunition, and now that
my men had deserted me, I had sufficient corn to supply my small party
for twelve months; I had also a quantity of garden-seeds, that I had
brought with me in the event of becoming a prisoner in the country; I
should therefore make a zareeba or camp at Gondokoro, and remain there
until I should receive men and supplies in the following season. I now
felt independent, having preserved my depot of corn. I was at least
proof against famine for twelve months. Koorshid endeavoured to persuade
me that my party of only a man and a boy would be certainly insulted and
attacked by the insolent natives of the Bari tribe should I remain alone
at Gondokoro after the departure of the traders' parties. I told him
that I preferred the natives to the traders' people, and that I was
resolved; I merely begged him to lend me one of his little slave boys as
an interpreter, as I had no means of communicating with the natives.
This he promised to do.

After Koorshid's departure, we sat silently for some minutes, both my
wife and I occupied by the same thoughts.

No expedition had ever been more carefully planned; everything had been
well arranged to insure success. My transport animals were in good
condition; their saddles and pads had been made under my own inspection;
my arms, ammunition, and supplies were abundant, and I was ready to
march at five minutes' notice to any part of Africa; but the expedition,
so costly, and so carefully organized, was completely ruined by the very
people whom I had engaged to protect it. They had not only deserted, but
they had conspired to murder. There was no law in these wild regions but
brute force; human life was of no value; murder was a pastime, as the
murderer could escape all punishment. Mr. Petherick's vakeel had just
been shot dead by one of his own men, and such events were too common to
create much attention. We were utterly helpless; the whole of the people
against us, and openly threatening. For myself personally I had no
anxiety, but the fact of Mrs. Baker being with me was my greatest care.
I dared not think of her position in the event of my death amongst such
savages as those around her. These thoughts were shared by her; but she,
knowing that I had resolved to succeed, never once hinted an advice for

Richarn was as faithful as Saat, and I accordingly confided in him my
resolution to leave all my baggage in charge of a friendly chief of the
Bari's at Gondokoro, and to take two fast dromedaries for him and Saat,
and two horses for Mrs. Baker and myself, and to make a push through the
hostile tribe for three days, to arrive among friendly people at "Moir,"
from which place I trusted to fortune. I arranged that the dromedaries
should carry a few beads, ammunition, and the astronomical instruments.
Richarn said the idea was very mad; that the natives would do nothing
for beads; that he had had great experience on the White Nile when with
a former master, and that the natives would do nothing without receiving
cows as payment; that it was of no use being good to them, as they had
no respect for any virtue but "force;" that we should most likely be
murdered; but that if I ordered him to go, he was ready to obey.

"Master, go on, and I will follow thee, To the last gasp, with truth and

I was delighted with Richarn's rough and frank fidelity. Ordering the
horses to be brought, I carefully pared their feet--their hard flinty
hoofs, that had never felt a shoe, were in excellent order for a gallop,
if necessary. All being ready, I sent for the chief of Gondokoro.
Meanwhile a Bari boy arrived from Koorshid to act as my interpreter.

The Bari chief was, as usual, smeared all over with red ochre and fat,
and had the shell of a small land tortoise suspended to his elbow as an
ornament. He brought me a large jar of merissa (native beer), and said
"he had been anxious to see the white man who did not steal cattle,
neither kidnap slaves, but that I should do no good in that country, as
the traders did not wish me to remain." He told me "that all people were
bad, both natives and traders, and that force was necessary in this
country." I tried to discover whether he had any respect for good and
upright conduct. "Yes," he said; "all people say that you are different
to the Turks and traders, but that character will not help you; it is
all very good and very right, but you see your men have all deserted,
thus you must go back to Khartoum; you can do nothing here without
plenty of men and guns." I proposed to him my plan of riding quickly
through the Bari tribe to Moir; he replied, "Impossible! If I were to
beat the great nogaras (drums), and call my people together to explain
who you were, they would not hurt you; but there are many petty chiefs
who do not obey me, and their people would certainly attack you when
crossing some swollen torrent, and what could you do with only a man and
a boy?"

His reply to my question concerning the value of beads corroborated
Richarn's statement; nothing could be purchased for anything but cattle;
the traders had commenced the system of stealing herds of cattle from
one tribe to barter with the next neighbour; thus the entire country was
in anarchy and confusion, and beads were of no value. My plan for a dash
through the country was impracticable.

I therefore called my vakeel, and threatened him with the gravest
punishment on my return to Khartoum. I wrote to Sir R. Colquhoun, H.M.
Consul-General for Egypt, which letter I sent by one of the return
boats; and I explained to my vakeel that the complaint to the British
authorities would end in his imprisonment, and that in case of my death
through violence he would assuredly be hanged. After frightening him
thoroughly, I suggested that he should induce some of the mutineers, who
were Dongolowas (his own tribe), many of whom were his relatives, to
accompany me, in which case I would forgive them their past misconduct.

In the course of the afternoon he returned with the news, that he had
arranged with seventeen of the men, but that they refused to march
towards the south, and would accompany me to the east if I wished to
explore that part of the country. Their plea for refusing a southern
route was the hostility of the Bari tribe. They also proposed a
condition, that I should "leave all my transport animals and baggage
behind me."

To this insane request, which completely nullified their offer to start,
I only replied by vowing vengeance against the vakeel.

Their time was passed in vociferously quarrelling among themselves
during the day, and in close conference with the vakeel during the
night, the substance of which was reported on the following morning by
the faithful Saat. The boy recounted their plot. They agreed to march to
the east, with the intention of deserting me at the station of a trader
named Chenooda, seven days' march from Gondokoro, in the Latooka
country, whose men were, like them selves, Dongolowas; they had
conspired to mutiny at that place, and to desert to the slave-hunting
party with my arms and ammunition, and to shoot me should I attempt to
disarm them. They also threatened to shoot my vakeel, who now, through
fear of punishment at Khartoum, exerted his influence to induce them to
start. Altogether, it was a pleasant state of things.

That night I was asleep in my tent, when I was suddenly awoke by loud
screams, and upon listening attentively I distinctly heard the heavy
breathing of something in the tent, and I could distinguish a dark
object crouching close to the head of my bed. A slight pull at my sleeve
showed me that my wife also noticed the object, as this was always the
signal that she made if anything occured at night that required
vigilance. Possessing a share of sangfroid admirably adapted for African
travel, Mrs. Baker was not a screamer, and never even whispered; in the
moment of suspected danger, a touch of my sleeve was considered a
sufficient warning. My hand had quietly drawn the revolver from under my
pillow and noiselessly pointed it within two feet of the dark crouching
object, before I asked, "Who is that?" No answer was given--until,
upon repeating the question, with my finger touching gently upon the
trigger ready to fire, a voice replied, "Fadeela." Never had I been so
near to a fatal shot! It was one of the black women of the party, who
had crept into the tent for an asylum. Upon striking a light I found
that the woman was streaming with blood, being cut in the most frightful
manner with the coorbatch (whip of hippopotamus' hide). Hearing the
screams continued at some distance from the tent, I found my angels in
the act of flogging two women; two men were holding each woman upon the
ground by sitting upon her legs and neck, while two men with powerful
whips operated upon each woman alternately. Their backs were cut to
pieces, and they were literally covered with blood. The brutes had taken
upon themselves the task of thus punishing the women for a breach of
discipline in being absent without leave. Fadeela had escaped before her
punishment had been completed, and narrowly escaped being shot by
running to the tent without giving warning. Seizing the coorbatch from
the hands of one of the executioners, I administered them a dose of
their own prescription, to their intense astonishment, as they did not
appear conscious of any outrage;--"they were only slave women." In all
such expeditions it is necessary to have women belonging to the party to
grind the corn and prepare the food for the men; I had accordingly hired
several from their proprietors at Khartoum, and these had been
maltreated as described.

I was determined at all hazards to start from Gondokoro for the
interior. From long experience with natives of wild countries, I did not
despair of obtaining an influence over my men, however bad, could I once
quit Gondokoro, and lead them among the wild and generally hostile
tribes of the country; they would then be separated from the contagion
of the slave-hunting parties, and would feel themselves dependent upon
me for guidance. Accordingly I professed to believe in their promises to
accompany me to the east, although I knew of their conspiracy; and I
trusted that by tact and good management I should eventually thwart all
their plans, and, although forced out of my intended course, I should be
able to alter my route, and to work round from the east to my original
plan of operations south. The interpreter given by Koorshid Aga had
absconded: this was a great loss, as I had no means of communication
with the natives except by casually engaging a Bari in the employment of
the traders, to whom I was obliged to pay exorbitantly in copper
bracelets for a few minutes' conversation.

A party of Koorshid's people had just arrived with ivory from the
Latooka country, bringing with them a number of that tribe as porters.
These people were the most extraordinary that I had seen--wearing
beautiful helmets of glass beads, and being remarkably handsome. The
chief of the party, "Adda," came to my tent, accompanied by a few of his
men. He was one of the finest men I ever saw, and he gave me much
information concerning his country, and begged me to pay him a visit. He
detested the Turks, but he was obliged to serve them, as he had received
orders from the great chief "Commoro" to collect porters, and to
transport their ivory from Latooka to Gondokoro. I took his portrait, to
his great delight, and made him a variety of presents of copper
bracelets, beads, and a red cotton handkerchief; the latter was most
prized, and he insisted upon wearing it upon his person. He had no
intention of wearing his new acquisition for the purpose of decency, but
he carefully folded it so as to form a triangle, and then tied it round
his waist, so that the pointed end should hang exactly straight BEHIND
him. So particular was he, that he was quite half an hour in arranging
this simple appendage; and at length he departed with his people, always
endeavouring to admire his new finery, by straining his neck in his
attempts to look behind him.

From morning till night natives of all ranks surrounded the tent to ask
for presents; these being generally granted, as it was highly necessary
to create a favourable impression. Koorshid's party, who had arrived
from Latooka, were to return shortly, but they not only refused to allow
me to accompany them, but they declared their intention of forcibly
repelling me, should I attempt to advance by their route. This was a
grand excuse for my men, who once more refused to proceed. By pressure
upon the vakeel they again yielded, but on condition that I would take
one of the mutineers named "Bellaal," who wished to join them, but whose
offer I had refused, as he had been a notorious ringleader in every
mutiny. It was a sine qua non that he was to go; and knowing the
character of the man, I felt convinced that it had been arranged that he
should head the mutiny conspired to be enacted upon our arrival at
Chenooda's camp in the Latooka country. The vakeel of Chenooda, one
Mahommed Her, was in constant communication with my men, which tended to
confirm the reports I had heard from the boy Saat. This Mahommed Her
started from Gondokoro for Latooka. Koorshid's men would start two days
later; these were rival parties, both antagonistic, but occupying the
same country, the Latooka; both equally hostile to me, but as the party
of Mahommed Her were Dongolowas, and that of Koorshid were Jalyns and
Soodanes, I trusted eventually to turn their disputes to my own

The plan that I had arranged was to leave all the baggage not
indispensable with Koorshid Aga at Gondokoro, who would return it to
Khartoum. I intended to wait until Koorshid's party should march, when I
resolved to follow them, as I did not believe they would dare to oppose
me by force, their master himself being friendly. I considered their
threats as mere idle boasting, to frighten me from an attempt to follow
them; but there was another more serious cause of danger to be

On the route, between Gondokoro and Latooka, there was a powerful tribe
among the mountains of Ellyria. The chief of that tribe (Legge) had
formerly massacred a hundred and twenty of a trader's party. He was an
ally of Koorshid's people, who declared that they would raise the tribe
against me, which would end in the defeat or massacre of my party. There
was a difficult pass through the mountains of Ellyria, which it would be
impossible to force; thus my small party of seventeen men would be
helpless. It would be merely necessary for the traders to request the
chief of Ellyria to attack my party to insure its destruction, as the
plunder of the baggage would be an ample reward.

There was no time for deliberation. Both the present and the future
looked as gloomy as could be imagined; but I had always expected
extraordinary difficulties, and they were, if possible, to be
surmounted. It was useless to speculate upon chances; there was no hope
of success in inaction; and the only resource was to drive through all
obstacles without calculating the risk.

Once away from Gondokoro we should be fairly launched on our voyage, the
boats would have returned to Khartoum, thus retreat would be cut off; it
only remained to push forward, trusting in Providence and good fortune.
I had great faith in presents. The Arabs are all venal; and, having many
valuable effects with me, I trusted, when the proper moment should
arrive, to be able to overcome all opposition by an open hand. The day
arrived for the departure of Koorshid's people. They commenced firing
their usual signals; the drums beat; the Turkish ensign led the way; and
they marched at 2 o'clock P.M., sending a polite message, "daring" me to
follow them.

I immediately ordered the tent to be struck, the luggage to be arranged,
the animals to be collected, and everything to be ready for the march.
Richarn and Saat were in high spirits, even my unwilling men were
obliged to work, and by 7 P.M. we were all ready. The camels were too
heavily loaded, carrying about seven hundred pounds each. The donkeys
were also overloaded, but there was no help for it. Mrs. Baker was well
mounted on my good old Abyssinian hunter "Tetel," ("Hartebeest") and
was carrying several leather bags slung to the pommel, while I was
equally loaded on my horse "Filfil;" ("Pepper") in fact, we were all
carrying as much as we could stow.

We had neither guide, nor interpreter. Not one native was procurable,
all being under the influence of the traders, who had determined to
render our advance utterly impossible by preventing the natives from
assisting us. All had been threatened, and we, perfectly helpless,
commenced the desperate journey in darkness about an hour after sunset.

"Where shall we go?" said the men, just as the order was given to start.
"Who can travel without a guide? No one knows the road." The moon was
up, and the mountain of Belignan was distinctly visible about nine miles
distant. Knowing that the route lay on the east side of that mountain, I
led the way, Mrs. Baker riding by my side, and the British flag
following close behind us as a guide for the caravan of heavily laden
camels and donkeys. We shook hands warmly with Dr. Murie, who had come
to see us off, and thus we started on our march in Central Africa on the
26th of March, 1863.



THE country was park-like, but much parched by the dry weather. The
ground was sandy, but firm, and interspersed with numerous villages, all
of which were surrounded with a strong fence of euphorbia. The country
was well wooded, being free from bush or jungle, but numerous trees, all
evergreens, were scattered over the landscape. No natives were to be
seen, but the sound of their drums and singing in chorus was heard in
the far distance. Whenever it is moonlight the nights are passed in
singing and dancing, beating drums, blowing horns, and the population of
whole villages thus congregate together.

After a silent march of two hours we saw watch-fires blazing in the
distance, and upon nearer approach we perceived the trader's party
bivouacked. Their custom is to march only two or three hours on the
first day of departure, to allow stragglers who may have lagged behind
in Gondokoro to rejoin the party before morning.

We were roughly challenged by their sentries as we passed, and were
instantly told "not to remain in their neighbourhood." Accordingly we
passed on for about half a mile in advance, and bivouacked on some
rising ground above a slight hollow in which we found water. All were
busy collecting firewood and cutting grass for the donkeys and horses
who were picketed near the fires. The camels were hobbled, and turned to
graze upon the branches of a large mimosa. We were not hungry; the
constant anxiety had entirely destroyed all appetite. A cup of strong
black coffee was the greatest luxury, and not requiring a tent in the
clear still night, we were soon asleep on our simple angareps. Before
daylight on the following morning the drum beat; the lazy soldiers,
after stretching and yawning, began to load the animals, and we started
at six o'clock. In these climates the rising of the sun is always
dreaded. For about an hour before sunrise the air is deliciously cool
and invigorating, but the sun is regarded as the common enemy. There is,
nevertheless, a difficulty in starting before sunrise-the animals cannot
be properly loaded in the darkness, and the operation being tedious, the
cool hour of morning is always lost. The morning was clear, and the
mountain of Belignan, within three or four miles, was a fine object to
direct our course. I could distinctly see some enormous trees at the
foot of the mountain near a village, and I hastened forward, as I hoped
to procure a guide who would also act as interpreter, many of the
natives in the vicinity of Gondokoro having learnt a little Arabic from
the traders. We cantered on ahead of the party, regardless of the
assurance of our unwilling men that the natives were not to be trusted,
and we soon arrived beneath the shade of a cluster of most superb trees.
The village was within a quarter of a mile, situated at the very base of
the abrupt mountain; the natives seeing us alone had no fear, and soon
thronged around us.

The chief understood a few words of Arabic, and I offered a large
payment of copper bracelets and beads for a guide. After much discussion
and bargaining, a bad-looking fellow offered to guide us to Ellyria, but
no farther. This was about twenty-eight or thirty miles distant, and it
was of vital importance that we should pass through that tribe before
the trader's party should raise them against us. I had great hopes of
outmarching them, as they would be delayed in Belignan by ivory
transactions with the chief. While negotiations were pending with the
guide, the trader's party appeared in the distance, and avoiding us,
they halted on the opposite side of the village. I now tried
conciliatory measures, and I sent my vakeel to their headman Ibrahim to
talk with him confidentially, and to try to obtain an interpreter in
return for a large present.

My vakeel was in an awkward position--he was afraid of me; also
mortally afraid of the government in Khartoum; and frightened out of his
life at his own men, whose conspiracy to desert he was well aware of.
With the cunning of an Arab he started on his mission, accompanied by
several of the men, including the arch-mutineer Bellaal. He shortly
returned, saying, "that it was perfectly impossible to proceed to the
interior; that Ibrahim's party were outrageous at my having followed on
their route; that he would neither give an interpreter, nor allow any of
the natives to serve me; and that he would give orders to the great
chief of Ellyria to prevent me from passing through his country." At
that time the Turks were engaged in business transactions with the
natives; it therefore was all important that I should start immediately,
and by a forced march arrive at Ellyria, and get through the pass,
before they should communicate with the chief. I had no doubt that, by
paying black mail, I should be able to clear Ellyria, provided I was in
advance of the Turks, but should they outmarch me there would be no
hope; a fight and defeat would be the climax. I accordingly gave orders
for an IMMEDIATE start. "Load the camels, my brothers!" I exclaimed, to
the sullen ruffians around me; but not a man stirred except Richarn and
a fellow named Sali, who began to show signs of improvement. Seeing that
the men intended to disobey, I immediately set to work myself loading
the animals, requesting my men not to trouble themselves, and begging
them to lie down and smoke their pipes while I did the work. A few rose
from the ground ashamed, and assisted to load the camels, while the
others declared the impossibility of camels travelling by the road we
were about to take, as the Turks had informed them that not even the
donkeys could march through the thick jungles between Belignan and

"All right, my brothers!" I replied; "then we'll march as far as the
donkeys can go, and leave both them and the baggage on the road when
they can go no farther; but I GO FORWARD."

With sullen discontent the men began to strap on their belts and
cartouche boxes, and prepare for the start. The animals were loaded, and
we moved slowly forward at 4.30 P.M. The country was lovely. The
mountain of Belignan, although not exceeding 1,200 feet, is a fine mass
of gneiss and syenite, ornamented in the hollows with fine trees, while
the general appearance of the country at the base was that of a
beautiful English park well timbered and beautified with distant
mountains. We had just started with the Bari guide that I had engaged at
Belignan, when we were suddenly joined by two of the Latookas whom I had
seen when at Gondokoro, and to whom I had been very civil. It appeared
that these fellows, who were acting as porters to the Turks, had been
beaten, and had therefore absconded and joined me. This was
extraordinary good fortune, as I now had guides the whole way to
Latooka, about ninety miles distant. I immediately gave them each a
copper bracelet and some beads, and they very good-naturedly relieved
the camels of one hundred pounds of copper rings, which they carried in
two baskets on their heads.

We now crossed the broad dry bed of a torrent, and the banks being
steep, a considerable time was occupied in assisting the loaded animals
in their descent. The donkeys were easily aided, their tails being held
by two men, while they shuffled and slid down the sandy banks; but every
camel fell, and the loads had to be carried up the opposite bank by the
men, and the camels to be reloaded on arrival. Here again the donkeys
had the advantage, as without being unloaded they were assisted up the
steep ascent by two men in front pulling at their ears, while others
pushed behind. Altogether, the donkeys were far more suitable for the
country, as they were more easily loaded. I had arranged their packs and
saddles so well, that they carried their loads with the greatest
comfort. Each animal had an immense pad well stuffed with goats' hair;
this reached from the shoulder to the hip-bones; upon this rested a
simple form of saddle made of two forks of boughs inverted, and fastened
together with rails--there were no nails in these saddles, all the
fastenings being secured with thongs of raw hide. The great pad,
projecting far both in front, behind, and also below the side of the
saddle, prevented the loads from chafing the animal. Every donkey
carried two large bags made of the hides of antelopes that I had
formerly shot on the frontier of Abyssinia, and these were arranged with
taggles on the one to fit into loops on the other, so that the loading
and unloading was exceedingly simple. The success of an expedition
depends mainly upon the perfection of the details, and where animals are
employed for transport, the first consideration should be bestowed upon
saddles and packs. The facility of loading is all important, and I now
had an exemplification of its effect upon both animals and men; the
latter began to abuse the camels and to curse the father of this, and
the mother of that, because they had the trouble of unloading them for
the descent into the river's bed, while the donkeys were blessed with
the endearing name of "my brother," and alternately whacked with the
stick. It was rather a bad commencement of a forced march, and the
ravine we had crossed had been a cause of serious delay. Hardly were the
animals reloaded and again ready for the march, when the men remembered
that they had only one waterskin full. I had given orders before the
start from Belignan that all should be filled. This is the unexceptional
rule in African travelling--"fill your girbas before starting." Never
mind what the natives may tell you concerning the existence of water on
the road; believe nothing; but resolutely determine to fill the girbas
--should you find water, there is no harm done if you are already
provided: but nothing can exceed the improvidence of the people. To
avoid the trouble of filling the girbas before starting, the men will
content themselves with "Inshallah (please God), we shall find water on
the road," and they frequently endure the greatest suffering from sheer
idleness in neglecting a supply.

They had in this instance persuaded themselves that the river we had
just crossed would not be dry. Several of them had been employed in this
country formerly, and because they had at one time found water in the
sandy bed, they had concluded that it existed still. Accordingly they
now wished to send parties to seek for water; this would entail a
further delay, at a time when every minute was precious, as our fate
depended upon reaching and passing through Ellyria before the arrival of
the Turks. I was very anxious, and determined not to allow a moment's
hesitation; I therefore insisted upon an immediate advance, and resolved
to march without stopping throughout the night. The Latooka guides
explained by signs that if we marched all night we should arrive at
water on the following morning. This satisfied the men; and we started.
For some miles we passed through a magnificent forest of large trees:
the path being remarkably good, the march looked propitious--this good
fortune, however, was doomed to change. We shortly entered upon thick
thorny jungles; the path was so overgrown that the camels could scarcely
pass under the overhanging branches, and the leather bags of provisions
piled upon their backs were soon ripped by the hooked thorns of the
mimosa--the salt, rice, and coffee bags all sprang leaks, and small
streams of these important stores issued from the rents, which the men
attempted to repair by stuffing dirty rags into the holes. These thorns
were shaped like fish-hooks, thus it appeared that the perishable
baggage must soon become an utter wreck, as the great strength and
weight of the camels bore all before them, and sometimes tore the
branches from the trees, the thorns becoming fixed in the leather bags.
Meanwhile the donkeys walked along in comfort, being so short that they
and their loads were below the branches.

I dreaded the approach of night. We were now at the foot of a range of
high rocky hills, from which the torrents during the rainy season had
torn countless ravines in their passage through the lower ground; we
were marching parallel to the range at the very base, thus we met every
ravine at right angles. Down tumbled a camel; and away rolled his load
of bags, pots, pans, boxes, &c. into the bottom of a ravine in a
confused ruin.--Halt! . . and the camel had to be raised and helped up
the opposite bank, while the late avalanche of luggage was carried
piecemeal after him to be again adjusted. To avoid a similar catastrophe
the remaining three camels had to be UNLOADED, and reloaded when safe
upon the opposite bank. The operation of loading a camel with about 700
lbs. of luggage of indescribable variety is at all times tedious; but no
sooner had we crossed one ravine with difficulty than we arrived at
another, and the same fatiguing operation had to be repeated, with
frightful loss of time at the moment when I believed the Turks were
following on our path.

My wife and I rode about a quarter of a mile at the head of the party as
an advance guard, to warn the caravan of any difficulty. The very nature
of the country declared that it must be full of ravines, and yet I could
not help hoping against hope that we might have a clear mile of road
without a break. The evening had passed, and the light faded. What had
been difficult and tedious during the day, now became most serious;--
we could not see the branches of hooked thorns that overhung the broken
path; I rode in advance, my face and arms bleeding with countless
scratches, while at each rip of a thorn I gave a warning shout--
"Thorn!" for those behind, and a cry of "Hole!" for any deep rut that
lay in the path. It was fortunately moonlight, but the jungle was so
thick that the narrow track was barely perceptible; thus both camels and
donkeys ran against the trunks of trees, smashing the luggage, and
breaking all that could be broken; nevertheless, the case was urgent;
march we must, at all hazards.

My heart sank whenever we came to a deep ravine, or Hor; the warning cry
of "halt" told those in the rear that once more the camels must be
unloaded, and the same fatiguing operation must be repeated. For hours
we marched: the moon was sinking; the path, already dark, grew darker;
the animals, overloaded even for a good road, were tired out; and the
men were disheartened, thirsty, and disgusted. I dismounted from my
horse and loaded him with sacks, to relieve a camel that was perfectly
done--but on we marched. Every one was silent; the men were too tired
to speak; and through the increasing gloom we crept slowly forward
Suddenly another ravine, but not so deep; and we trusted that the camels
might cross it without the necessity of unloading; down went the leading
camel, rolling completely over with his load to the bottom. Now, the boy
Saat was the drummer; but being very tired, he had come to the
conclusion that the drum would travel quite as easily upon a camel's
back as upon his shoulders; he had accordingly slung it upon the very
camel that had now performed a somersault and solo on the drum. The
musical instrument was picked up in the shape of a flat dish, and
existed no longer as a drum, every note having been squeezed out of it.
The donkey is a much more calculating animal than the camel, the latter
being an excessively stupid beast, while the former is remarkably clever
--at least I can answer for the ability of the Egyptian species. The
expression "what an ass!" is in Europe supposed to be slightly
insulting, but a comparison with the Egyptian variety would be a
compliment. Accordingly my train of donkeys, being calculating and
reasoning creatures, had from thus night's experience come to the
conclusion that the journey was long; that the road was full of ravines;
that the camels who led the way would assuredly tumble into these
ravines unless unloaded; and that as the reloading at each ravine would
occupy at least half an hour, it would be wise for them (the donkeys) to
employ that time in going to sleep--therefore, as it was just as cheap
to lie down as to stand, they preferred a recumbent posture, and a
refreshing roll upon the sandy ground. Accordingly, whenever the word
"halt" was given, the clever donkeys thoroughly understood their
advantage, and the act of unloading a camel on arrival at a ravine was a
signal sufficient to induce each of twenty-one donkeys to lie down. It
was in vain that the men beat and swore at them to keep them on their
legs; the donkeys were determined, and lie down they would. This
obstinacy on their part was serious to the march--every time that they
lay down they shifted their loads; some of the most wilful (sic)
persisted in rolling, and of course upset their packs. There were only
seventeen men, and these were engaged in assisting the camels; thus the
twenty-one donkeys had it all their own way; and what added to the
confusion was the sudden cry of hyenas in close proximity, which so
frightened the donkeys that they immediately sprang to their feet, with
their packs lying discomfited, entangled among their legs. Thus, no
sooner were the camels reloaded on the other side of the ravine, than
all the donkeys had to undergo the same operation; during which time the
camels, however stupid, having observed the donkeys' "dodge," took the
opportunity of lying down also, and necessarily shifted their loads. The
women were therefore ordered to hold the camels, to prevent them from
lying down while the donkeys were being reloaded; but the women were
dead tired, as they had been carrying loads; they themselves laid down,
and it being dark, they were not observed until a tremendous scream was
heard, and we found that a camel had lain down on the TOP OF A WOMAN who
had been placed to watch it, but who had herself fallen asleep. The
camel was with difficulty raised, and the woman dragged from beneath.
Everything was tired out. I had been working like a slave to assist, and
to cheer the men; I was also fatigued. We had marched from 4.30 P.M.--
it was now 1 A.M.; we had thus been eight hours and a half struggling
along the path. The moon had sunk, and the complete darkness rendered a
further advance impossible; I therefore, on arrival at a large plateau
of rock, ordered the animals to be unloaded, and both man and beast to
rest. The people had no water; I had a girba full for Mrs. Baker and
myself, which was always slung on my saddle; this precaution I never

The men were hungry. Before leaving Gondokoro I had ordered a large
quantity of kisras (black pancakes) to be prepared for the march, and
they were packed in a basket that had been carried on a camel;
unfortunately Mrs. Baker's pet monkey had been placed upon the same
camel, and he had amused himself during the night's march by feasting
and filling his cheeks with the kisras, and _throwing the remainder
away_ when his hunger was satisfied. There literally was not a kisra
remaining in the basket.

Every one lay down supperless to sleep. Although tired, I could not rest
until I had arranged some plan for the morrow. It was evident that we
could not travel over so rough a country with the animals thus
overloaded; therefore determined to leave in the jungle such articles as
could be dispensed with, and to rearrange all the loads.

At 4 A.M. I woke, and lighting a lamp, I tried in vain to wake any of
the men who lay stretched upon the ground, like so many corpses, sound
asleep. At length Saat sat up, and after rubbing his eyes for about ten
minutes, he made a fire, and began to boil the coffee; meanwhile I was
hard at work lightening the ship. I threw away about 100 lbs. of salt;
divided the heavy ammunition more equally among the animals; rejected a
quantity of odds and ends that, although most useful, could be forsaken;
and by the time the men woke, a little before sunrise, I had completed
the work. We now reloaded the animals, who showed the improvement by
stepping out briskly. We marched well for three hours at a pace that bid
fair to keep us well ahead of the Turks, and at length we reached the
dry bed of a stream, where the Latooka guides assured us we should
obtain water by digging. This proved correct; but the holes were dug
deep in several places, and hours passed before we could secure a
sufficient supply for all the men and animals. The great sponging-bath
was excessively useful, as it formed a reservoir out of which all the
animals could drink.

While we were thus engaged some natives appeared carrying with them the
head of a wild boar in a horrible state of decomposition, and alive with
maggots. On arrival at the drinking-place they immediately lighted a
fire, and proceeded to cook their savoury pork by placing it in the
flames. The skull becoming too hot for the inmates, crowds of maggots
rushed pele-mele from the ears and nostrils like people escaping from
the doors of a theatre on fire. The natives merely tapped the skull with
a stick to assist in their exit, and proceeded with their cooking until
completed; after which they ate the whole, and sucked the bones. However
putrid meat may be, it does not appear to affect the health of these

My animals requiring rest and food, I was obliged to wait unwillingly
until 4.30 P.M. The natives having finished their boar's head, offered
to join us; and accordingly we rode on a considerable distance ahead of
our people with our active guides, while the caravan followed slowly
behind us. After ascending for about a mile through jungle, we suddenly
emerged upon an eminence, and looked down upon the valley of Tollogo.
This was extremely picturesque. An abrupt wall of grey granite rose on
the east side of the valley to a height of about a thousand feet: from
this perpendicular wall huge blocks had fallen, strewing the base with a
confused mass of granite lumps ten to forty feet in diameter; and among
these natural fortresses of disjointed masses were numerous villages.
The bottom of the valley was a meadow, in which grew several enormous
fig trees by the side of a sluggish, and in some places stagnant, brook.
The valley was not more than half a mile wide, and was also walled in by
mountains on the west, having the appearance of a vast street.

We were now about a mile ahead of our party; but accompanied by our two
Latooka guides, and upon descending to the valley and crossing a deep
gully, we soon arrived beneath a large fig tree at the extremity of the
vale. No sooner was our presence observed than crowds of natives issued
from the numerous villages among the rocks, and surrounded us. They were
all armed with bows and arrows and lances, and were very excited at
seeing the horses, which to them were unknown animals. Dismounting, I
fastened the horses to a bush, and we sat down on the grass under a

There were five or six hundred natives pressing round us. They were
excessively noisy, hallooing to us as though we were deaf, simply
because we did not understand them. Finding that they were pressing
rudely around us, I made signs to them to stand off; when at that moment
a curiously ugly, short, humped-back fellow came forward and addressed
me in broken Arabic. I was delighted to find an interpreter, and
requesting him to tell the crowd to stand back, I inquired for their
chief. The humpback spoke very little Arabic, nor did the crowd appear
to heed him, but they immediately stole a spear that one of my Latooka
guides had placed against the tree under which we were sitting. It was
getting rather unpleasant; but having my revolver and a double-barrelled
rifle in my hands, there was no fear of their being stolen.

In reply to a question to the humpback, he asked me "Who I was?" I
explained that I was a traveller. "You want ivory?" he said. "No," I
answered, "it is of no use to me." "Ah, you want slaves!" he replied.
"Neither do I want slaves," I answered. This was followed by a burst of
laughter from the crowd, and the humpback continued his examination.
"Have you got plenty of cows?" "Not one; but plenty of beads and
copper." "Plenty? Where are they?" "Not far off; they will be here
presently with my men;" and I pointed to the direction from which they
would arrive. "What countryman are you?" "An Englishman." He had never
heard of such people. "You are a Turk?" "All right," I replied; "I am
anything you like." "And that is your son?" (pointing at Mrs. Baker.)
"No, she is my wife." "Your wife! What a lie! He is a boy." "Not a bit
of it," I replied; "she is my wife, who has come with me to see the
women of this country." "What a lie!" he again politely re joined in the
one expressive Arabic word, "Katab." After this charmingly frank
conversation he addressed the crowd, explaining, I suppose, that I was
endeavouring to pass off a boy for a woman. Mrs. Baker was dressed
similarly to myself, in a pair of loose trowsers and gaiters, with a
blouse and belt--the only difference being that she wore long sleeves,
while my arms were bare from a few inches below the shoulder. I always
kept my arms bare, as being cooler than if covered.


Back to Full Books