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PREPARATIONS FOR LEAVING GONDOKORO.
dom, shot a native, and as no redress was given, the men were attacked, and sixteen of their number slain. The
poor baron was away shooting ducks at the time, and, returning in the middle of the tumult, was killed. A missionary, whose boat was close by, was not touched.
At Khartoom it was not expected that we would ever succeed in crossing Africa, but Madame Tinne, her sister the baroness, and Miss Tinne, had more hope of us, and in the most philanthropic manner, braving the malaria of the White Nile, they reached Gondokoro in a steamer expecting to aid us.
The natives will long remember their humanity and generosity ; but the deadly swamps have since proved fatal to poor Madame Tinne, and also to a medical man of her party, and several European servants. Mr Baker, too, was full of hope, and had told the people of Khartoom that, as Bruce had discovered the source of the Blue Nile, our party would decide that of the White. At length it was time we should leave Gondokoro. By the 25th of February 1863, Speke had found the moon in proper position for taking lunars. We had heard all the English news from Baker, we had shared his hospitable table during our stay, seen his spirited sketches, and listened to his animated conversation. Our boats were filled with the necessaries and comforts of life, and everything was prepared for our starting with the stream in the morning.
GONDOKORO TO KHARTOOM, FROM 26TH FEBRUARY TILL 30TH
MARCH 1863-LEAVE GONDOKORO BY BOAT-THE SHIR COUNTRY — AUSTRIAN MISSION - STATION AT KITCH-THE RIVERS BAHR-EL-GHAZAL, BAHR-GIRAFFE, AND SOBAT — THE SHILLOOK COUNTRY — BANKS OF THE NILE – ARAB SETTLEMENT OF EL EIS-ENTRY INTO CIVILISED COUNTRY-ARRIVAL
Our Seedees were divided among the three return boats furnished by Baker to convey us to Khartoom. Two were nægurs or baggage-boats, made roughly of the Acacia Arabica or soonud, and having each an unwieldy sail, without awning or cabins. The third was a diabeah, which we and our private servants occupied. Her build was lower in the water than the others, the hold was neatly boarded over, and upon it was built a poop-cabin. She drew three feet of water when unladen, and had the peculiar Nile rig, with twelve rowers, a helmsman, and a captain or “nakhoda" named Diab. Two of the other hands were not forthcoming, preferring to lead a roving life with their former master, Baker; but at two in the afternoon of the 26th, having bade adieu to all, we shoved off, and floated down with the current. The oars were rudely
THE PEOPLE OF THE SHIR COUNTRY.
tied with rope to the gunwales, and the men only required to keep the boat in the stream and prevent her getting ashore on banks of sand. When any exertion was required, they rose from their seats, laying the weight of their bodies on their oars, and joined in a pleasing monotonous song, led by the “stroke” of the party. Proceeding in this way against a slight headwind seemed no labour to them; they rowed, joked, sang, or munched dry“ dooro,” bread and garlic, from sunrise to sunset. By noon of the third day we had made great progress-namely, one degree of north latitude-notwithstanding that we lay-to during the night on account of the shallows. We had reached a station of Koorshid Aga's in the Shir country, and passed through a corner of the Berri country. The banks were grassy and flat, and the trees were covered with creepers, giving them the appearance of old towers or abbeys. The river was divided by islands into four branches, and it required all the knowledge of our captain to decide which of them to choose. Some of the islands were covered with cattle, which ran off as they saw our boat approach. In the dry season, the natives bring down their cattle to graze and water them near the river. Their rustic settlements, of a conical form, with numerous people about, were built upon the very banks of the river, and were so small that a single man could hardly lie at length in them. The people sometimes spoke to us, wishing to get beads; but possessing so many cattle, they certainly were not objects of compassion. Nearly all of them were covered with ashes, as if they had lain in them during the night.
Sitting on the poop-deck, we watched the scenes on
SCENES ON THE NILE.
the river. Pelican flew in solemn procession, or marked the water's edge by a line of white. Myriads of the Indian paddy-bird perched upon the trees. There were cranes, divers, and sometimes a fish-eagle. At one time I counted the heads of twenty-two hippopotami, a perfect shoal of them, packed as close as they could swim together, looking like monstrous retriever dogs in the stream. Some were spouting water, others dipping, others snorting, and others rearing their heads and shoulders ; but as we got near them, all dived to come up again scattered. This packing seemed common, as at other places we came on them in the same order, with cranes perched on their heads. We saluted Koorshid's colours with two
from our deck at a Shir village where we lay-to for some hours. Two of his soldiers, holding possession of the place, were posted with a supply of beads, &c., with which they purchase ivory. The village chief came to call on us; he was dressed like a Turk, with a fez and long-sleeved gown of pink striped calico, but the crowd of natives who sold commodities on the bank were nude, only that their skins were covered with wood-ashes.
They made here an excellent basket, shaped like a finger-glass, from the fronds of the doom palm. Its fruit and flour, tasting of gingerbread, as also tobacco, were exposed for sale, in exchange for our men's provisions of doora-grain. Many of the nude natives had been circumcised, and all had their lower incisors extracted like the Wanyoro. On entering the village we found it clean and tidy; the part before each doorway plastered as a space to sit upon. Here, sitting by some standards, three women received us
WOMEN OF SHIR-RACE OF ALIAB.
graciously by shaking hands and saying, “Adoto.” They were the last race that we saw wearing only fringes and switch tails of corded fibre. They smoked clay pipes, in shape like a reversed cone, with two resting-prongs, each holding half a handful of tobacco; and their long stems had mouthpieces of iron, quite fashionable in comparison to those seen in Uganda. men sported a two-feet-long piece of solid Dalbergia wood, the shape of a marline-spike, but tapering at both ends, and often nicely milled longitudinally. There was nothing further to remark about this Shir village, but that the cattle were comfortably housed / under sheds made of the fronds from the doom palm -a tree we had not seen since leaving the Zanzibar coast.
The next race we came among were the Aliab, known at once by their women being partially dressed. Here they slung a goatskin over the shoulder, like the Wanyamuezi, to hide their chests, and two other skins were tied round their waists, depending in front and behind. We were told, however, that only married women were allowed to wear all this clothing. The men were also distinguishable by a tuft of wool on the crown of their heads, a circle of very white mud plastered round it, and their faces and bodies covered with ashes. They did not seem at all afraid of us, for they assisted in pushing off our boat. Their diet is said to be almost entirely a milk one, and they have numerous herds. We put in to the left bank at the settlement of Shenooda, a Khartoom merchant, and found the latitude to be 6° 5' 9" N. Another station, where there were forty men and a boat, was low and unhealthy, the musquitoes at night being in myriads.