challenged the intruder. This struck us, because in our journey through Africa we had rarely heard the voice of a dog. We now found that we could no longer purchase produce with beads or cloth. Money was the mode of exchange. We were amused with Bombay going amongst these Arabs to buy fish with an iron hoe: the honest fellow thought, from their simple mode of life and appearance, that we were still amongst a wild set of people ; and so they were to a certain extent, for beyond the produce of the soil, and their cattle, sheep, and goats, they seemed to have no other desire. Great care was consequently taken of their flocks. The large lop-eared breed of sheep are bathed in the Nile by their owners. They are carried into three feet of water and dropped on their backs or sides, then scrubbed to the tail, and allowed to run back to join the flock. The goats are tall, generally black, with immense udders and long hair ; they are clipped with a knife, and their hair, with that of sheep, is made into a coarse blanket or bernoose by the women.

Powerful smooth greyhounds, indigenous to the country or to the western parts of Abyssinia, are used as we use sheep-dogs, and seem to guard carefully the habitations as well as the flocks.

Our captain, Diab, was known to many of the people along the river's bank. The Arabs would call out eagerly to him, asking after their brothers or husbands far in the interior ivory-hunting. I watched several of these interviews. Once an elderly woman called him by name from the shore while our boat moved down the stream. Without asking for our permission, he landed, and they saluted by each placing the right hand on the other's shoulder, then a solemn shake of the hand



took place, and Diab for a moment left her to go and sit upon a dry spot of sand. She followed, sat by him and told her tale, while a boy joined them, and was kissed by Diab on the cheek. Master Frij seeing what went on, thought he had better join the small party, and listen to what they had to say to one another. Taking his place close by them, he sat there with the greatest coolness, without introduction to the lady, or any previous knowledge of her. The Africans are generally a free-and-easy race, and despise the formalities of society. When Mr Moorlang, the Austrian missionary, was pressing upon us the acceptance of some delicacy, Frij, too proud to confess our poverty, found a reply by saying that our larder was full to excess—we did not require anything! He was the Caleb Balderston of the Nile Expedition.

Our passage down the Nile from El Eis to Khartoom, though only one hundred and fifty miles, occupied us eight days. The stillness of the current, the head wind, and the enticements offered to our crew by the bazaars at Shellai and Gutena, prevented our reaching sooner. Although the diabeah was all that we could wish for in comfort, yet knowing the distance to be so short, the delay was vexatious; the more so as we were told that at that point, or more particularly at Gutena, the north wind coming from the Dongolo direction sometimes, at this equinoctial season, detained boats for eight days, or even a month. I was astonished with the coldness of the atmosphere, even after the sun had risen, occasioned by these northern winds from Dongolo, and I asked Diab, the captain, regarding them ; his reply was, that they and the Cairo winds are colder than any ever ex



perienced at Khartoom. We had to lay-to so often that walking on shore was resorted to as a pastime; and we were glad to renew our acquaintance with the Persian wheel, driven seemingly by the same old bullocks and the same drivers as are seen on the plains of Hindostan; even the squeaking music from the wheels was there to complete the parallel.

The management of the diabeah was left entirely to the captain, who, with his crew, tried every possible means of

progress—towing, tacking, sailing, and rowing; but all generally failed. The truth is, they were waiting for a fair wind, and preferred a little quiet society on shore every evening, to making any great exertion to get to their journey's end. When they rowed, the boat was held with its broadside in the direction we wished to take; and when they tacked from shore to shore across the river, which was a mile broad, we stuck as regularly as the tack was made, not getting off till the crew jumped into the water and pushed the diabeah. Instead of making progress by these movements, we generally lost ground, in consequence of the awkward way they had of making the boat wheel a complete circle, or fall off the wind at the particular moment of changing the tack. Towing was willingly adopted by the crew, who harnessed themselves to ropes, and walked at a staid pace on the hard part of the shore. However, at this operation it was often very disheartening to find the wind blow, retarding, and finally stopping their advance. We generally put up for the night by the shore, to enable the crew to eat their dinners, and we were on the move by daybreak. When at Shijr Nagara (literally, tree-drums) we were told that, if we stood by a solitary tree on the



island, we could hear the drums of Khartoom. We did not make the experiment, and doubt the truth of the saying, on account of the distance. On the night of the 29th March, having rowed for Shijr Nagara till the moon was well up, we lay-to, our captain not wishing to enter the port of Khartoom at so late an hour, because all éclat and firing of guns would thereby be lost. Accordingly, on the following morning, we saw, when looking across a plain as bare as a table, at two miles' distance, a single conspicuous minaret, with an extinguisher top, numbers of mud houses, and

groves of the date-palm. This was Khartoom-lat., 15° 36'. Our route was down the White Nile for two miles, and then up the Blue Nile or Bahr Azrak for another mile. Wishing to take particular notice of the junction of the two rivers, Speke and I were both on deck by daybreak. As the main branch of the White Nile approaches the junction, the current gets strong and rapid, showing a broken surface, with a dangerous sunken rock in its right centre. The crew got excited, and shouted ; but in an instant the danger rock was past, and we were carried a dozen yards beyond the junction of the Blue Nile. The sail was here spread, and we soon recovered our lost ground, and proceeded up the Blue, whose waters now, in March, had scarcely any flow, and were so shallow that we had to pole a good part of the way up-stream. The colour of the water at once attracted our notice, being somewhat like the Mediterranean ; it was a green-blue, and, on being disturbed, was lively and sparkling in comparison with the muddy waters of the White Nile. The junction of the two rivers, the sweeping curve, and both shores of the Blue river, are not unlike what we had seen at



the place where the Sobat joins ; but the right bank of the Sobat is of gigantic grasses, while here the Blue river is of shelving, drifted sand. Their left banks resemble each other in being an abrupt break of twenty feet in the alluvial soil. A pier of stone lies unfinished near the confluence of the rivers; and after we had passed it by sailing and poling slowly up, the left bank was enlivened by boat-building operations, irrigations, gardens, date-trees, walled enclosures, &c. Two of De Bono's men, to whom we had given a passage from Gondokoro, fired a salute in our honour from the shore. We had not anchored when Ali Bey, the Wukeel of the Governor, Musa Pasha, arrived with a friend in his boat, and stepped on board. He embraced us in the most affectionate manner before we had even time to learn who it was that had thus welcomed us. We proceeded on shore in his boat, which was shaded with an awning, and carpeted. Ali was very nicely dressed a la Turk, in a claret-coloured cloth suit, quite a contrast to the ragged clothes we wore. There was no such thing as a pier or platform. We stepped ashore and ascended the steep incline of the river bank, and then stood

upon the level of the town. Proceeding at a great pace, our hands being held by our kind conductor, down lanes and round corners, every one we met on the way

showing him great respect, we at last reached a house and garden. A white Arab horse stood eating from the same bundle of grass as a caparisoned donkey, and we were directed to sit upon a charpoy (four-poster) covered with carpet, while the Wukeel bustled off into the interior of the house. During his absence, the friend who had accompanied him to the boat told us (native fashion) that the Wukeel who had taken us by

« ForrigeFortsett »