The Moors are very good horsemen, riding without fear, and their saddles being high before and behind, afford them a very secure seat, and should they fall, the country is so soft and sandy, that they are seldom hurt. The king always rode upon a milk-white horse, with its tail dyed red. He never walked, but to prayers, and two or three horses were always kept ready saddled near his tent. The Moors set a high value upon their horses, as their fleetness enables them to plunder the negro countries.
On the same afternoon, a whirlwind passed through the camp, with such violence, that it overturned three tents, and blew down one side of the hut in which Mr. Park was. These whirlwinds come from the Great Desert, and at that season of the year are so common, that Mr. Park has seen five or six of them at one time. They carry up quantities of sand to an amazing height, which resemble at a distance so many moving pillars of smoke.
The scorching heat of the sun, upon a dry and sandy country, now made the air insufferably hot. Ali having robbed Mr. Park of his thermometer, he had no means of forming a comparative judgment; but in the middle of the day, when the beams of the vertical sun are seconded by the scorching wind from the desert, the ground is frequently heated to such a degree, as not to be borne by the naked foot; even the negro slaves will not run from one tent to another without their sandals. At this time of the day, the Moors are stretched at length in their tents, either asleep or unwilling to move, and Mr. Park has often felt the wind so hot, that he could not hold his hand in the current of air, which came through the crevices of his hut, without feeling sensible pain.
During Mr. Park’s stay, a child died in an adjoining tent. The mother and relations immediately began the death howl, in which they were joined by several female visitors. He had no opportunity of seeing the burial, which is performed secretly during night, near the tent. They plant a particular shrub over the grave, which no stranger is allowed to pluck, nor even touch.