Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

418

PREPARATIONS FOR LEAVING KHARTOOM.

The

ornamentation on the chest, had been broken off. measurements were

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Although there were other ruins about Soba, we were informed that the above were the only remains worthy of note; so we re-embarked at noon, and returned to Khartoom.

Preparations were making for our departure by boat to Berber, and thence by desert upon camels to Korosko. It was necessary, on account of the poverty of Berber, to lay in supplies of food at Khartoom for both these journeys. Ali Bey procured us a small diabeah which belonged to Government. We had only to pay the hire of the crew to Berber, namely, twenty-eight dollars. We had twenty Seedees, and each required to have two goat-skins, or “girba," to carry his drinking-water; Speke and I had two “ rey,” or cow-skins, each, for the same purpose, and water-bottles to hang from our camel-saddles. All these were purchased, the small ones for seven, and the large for thirty-eight koorsh each. It was necessary to grease and test these skins before setting out on the journey. A number of lads, each with the skin of a goat, blew into them with all their might, and then tied up the inflated skins for our inspection. Having arranged everything, we intended sailing at noon of the 15th April; but the hospitality of the Baroness, the Austrian missionaries, M. de Bono, and

ADVICE TO TRAVELLERS.

419

other gentlemen of Khartoom, delayed our departure till the afternoon, when about a dozen of our kind friends came to bid us farewell. The advices we received as to crossing the desert were numerous, and I may here mention them for the benefit of future travellers :-Have a list of the stages by land and water, mentioning what supplies are procurable. Always sling a water-bag and bag of biscuit to the pommel of your saddle. Ali Bey recommended a thimbleful of rum in a good deal of water as the best thing to keep one awake, and prevent tumbling off the camel during night. Always take a sleep for a few hours from nine in the morning. Water is more requisite than food; next to this, abrey (or dry unleavened bread) and hard biscuit are the best. See that your men do not steal your water, or the sailors your ropes. The camels, too, are apt, from thirst, to bite through the water-bags, which must be taken care of, and also covered during the night, to prevent the wind drying them up; and always have something under them. We found all these advices excellent; and I have nothing to add except that a “Hadjeen,” or riding camel, is indispensable to comfort.

CHAPTER XVIII.

KHARTOOM TO CAIRO—THE GHERRI PASS-RUINS AT SCENDI—

THE PYRAMIDS AND RUINS OF MEROE—THE RIVER ATBARA

-THE TOWN OF BERBER-SCENES ACROSS THE DESERTTHE VILLAGE OF ABOO AHMED-THE FALSE SEA, OR BAHR BELAMA-NATRON WELLS— EXTRAORDINARY NATURAL TUNNEL-KOROSKO-CAIRO-ENGLAND.

WE rowed down stream till midnight of the 15th April, and lay-to for the remainder of the night at Halfaya. Here Ali Bey and the sheikh of the place appeared, bringing us a present of two sheep. We all dined together, and afterwards our generous friend Ali Bey took leave of us, and returned on horseback to Khartoom, having left an aide-de-camp to escort us to Berber. Our crew rowed incessantly till sunset. About Halfaya the banks are either of hard shelving sand or perpendicular clay, and low solitary hills are generally in sight. The river was again mud-colour, and surprised us with being so narrow-not more than a hundred and eighty yards wide. On the left bank grew tamarisks, a species of willow, and several other plants we had not met with on our previous journey. While at Khartoom I had an opportunity

PASSING A CATARACT.

421

of seeing a collection of plants from the Bahr Ghazal, made by Dr Steudner (since dead) of Madame Tinne's expedition; they were nearly all the same as those found upon the Nile, but some auricularias were interesting. The sunset view of Mount Roeean and the low chain of mounds to its right, as we looked down a rocky reach of the river about four miles in length, was striking ; the slopes of the hills became purple, and the bushes on both banks were lit up in gorgeous tints. The river had quite changed its character ; numbers of rocks at the sides and centre of the stream stood out of the water, making the navigation dangerous, and impossible at night. Our rowers had to pull very hard to escape the sunken rocks, which we avoided through the aid of a pilot from the shore.

17th.-Having passed the island of Roeean to our right, the river ran through a narrow pass of hills called “Gherri.” Nothing could be more desolatelooking : splinters of black rock lay on their sides, like refuse thrown from a quarry. The river branches on making its escape from these hills. Our boat took the right channel, and had scarcely entered it when we had to pass through a rapid and dangerous cataract, known as the Sixth Cataract of the maps, and called by the natives Cibleoga.

It was so narrow, that while our oars were poised, and we shot down the sluice, guided only by the helm, the oars almost touched the rocks on either side. The pilot, steersman, and boatman saw that one false move would have dashed the boat to pieces, so they did not breathe freely till the difficulty was over. No more rocks were met with till reaching Murnat at

422

VISIT THE VILLAGE OF SCENDI.

sunset, where it was considered desirable to rest for

the night.

18th.—There are only two large places, or “bunders," on the route by water to Berber-namely, Metamma and Scendi. Nearly the whole distance is flat, bare, and uncultivated, without villages ; but numerous flocks of cattle, camels, sheep, goats, and sometimes horses, are to be seen upon the banks. The people were civil in offering us milk and garden vegetables. To-day, although the mainmast of our boat had been taken down, the north wind and storm of sand blew so hard from nine till two o'clock that we could make no progress. We were not, however, troubled with rocks in the stream, and by sunset had made as far as the tame-looking district of Bowalat. From this point we had no rocks, but rowed steadily down, at two and a half miles per hour, as far as some wells and cultivations on the right bank at Go(n)cil Ilm. A native of this place, calling himself a Shygeea, had three lines cut upon each cheek, similar to the custom practised on the Nile at 4° N.; but though an aborigine, he was a Mussulman-converted, probably, at the time the late commander-in-chief, Ibrahim Pasha, conquered the country. The district was reckoned exactly half-way between Khartoom and Berber ; but we anchored for the night at the left bank of Metam

There were no antiquities to be seen ; and, having gone down stream for an hour, we lay-to on the 20th at the town of Scendi, a straggling, dusty, miserable place, but which afforded liquor to our sailors, and fresh bread to ourselves. There were mounds of ancient remains in abundance; and three miles to the south-west some buildings and figures in stone were

ma.

« ForrigeFortsett »