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Lander's Travels eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 909 pages of information about Lander's Travels.

About the same time a moorish wedding was celebrated, the ceremony of which is thus described by Mr. Park.  “In the evening the tabala or large drum was beaten to announce a wedding, which was held at one of the neighbouring tents.  A great number of people of both sexes assembled, but without that mirth and hilarity which take place at a negro wedding; here there was neither singing nor dancing, nor any other amusement that I could perceive.  A woman was beating the drum, and the other women joining at times like a chorus, by setting up a shrill scream, and at the same time moving their tongues from one side of the mouth to the other with great celerity.  I was soon tired and had returned to my hut where I was sitting almost asleep, when an old woman entered with a wooden bowl in her hand, and signified that she had brought me a present from the bride.  Before I could recover from the surprise which this message created, the woman discharged the content of the bowl full in my face.  Finding that it was the same sort of holy water, with which, among the Hottentots, a priest is said to sprinkle a new-married couple, I began to suspect that the old lady was actuated by mischief or malice, but she gave me seriously to understand, that it was a nuptial benediction from the bride’s own person, and which, on such occasions, is always received by the young unmarried Moors as a mark of distinguished favour.  This being the ease, I wiped my face and sent my acknowledgments to the lady.  The wedding drum continued to beat, and the women to sing, or rather to whistle during the whole of the night.  About nine in the morning, the bride was brought in state from her mother’s tent, attended by a number of women, who carried her tent, being a present from her husband, some bearing up the poles, others holding by the strings, and in this manner they marched, whistling as formerly, until they came to the place appointed for her residence, where they pitched the tent.  The husband followed with a number of men leading four bullocks, which they tied to the tent strings, and having killed another, and distributed the beef among the people, the ceremony was concluded.”

CHAPTER VII.

Mr. Park had now been detained a whole month in Ali’s camp, during which each returning day brought him fresh distresses.  In the evening alone, his oppressors left him to solitude and reflection.  About midnight, a bowl of kouskous, with some salt and water, was brought for him and his two attendants, being the whole of their allowance for the following day, for it was at this time the Mahometan Lent, which, being kept with religious strictness by the Moors, they thought proper to compel their Christian captive to a similar abstinence.  Time, in some degree, reconciled him to his forlorn state:  he now found that he could bear hunger and thirst better than he could have anticipated; and at length endeavoured to amuse himself by learning to write Arabic.  The people, who came to see him, soon made him acquainted with the characters.  When he observed any one person, whose countenance he thought malignant, Mr. Park almost always asked him to write on the sand, or to decipher what he had written, and the pride of showing superior attainment generally induced him to comply with the request.

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