27th.—In the morning we wished to start at once, and get away from this scene of our second disaster; but we had to stay to select the goods which were to pay for our lives, liberties, and consciences. However, we at length got off; and whilst the bandits were swearing, and griping one another by the throat, and fighting over the booty, we pushed hastily on towards Seloufeeat, which, according to our Tanelkums, is really the first country of Asben. As we entered the valley our people kept up a running fire, to alarm any one who might feel disposed to attack us. We had been so much accustomed to inhospitality and robbers of late, that we confidently expected further difficulties as soon as we met with the inhabitants.
After a march of four hours we arrived, and encamped in the neighbourhood of Seloufeeat. The valley has quite a Soudan appearance, but solely on account of the presence of the doom palm. There are, however, a considerable number of other trees, particularly the souak, the branches of which are eaten voraciously by our camels. It has beautiful green foliage, and is very bushy and spreading. Wheat, and ghaseb, and other grain are grown in the valley, where there is abundance of good water. The wells are like those of Ghadamez,—that is to say, an upright beam with a long cross-pole, having a stone at one end and a rope and bucket at the other, serves to bring up the water.
We found here a caravan about to proceed direct to Mourzuk, and I seized the opportunity to write by it to Government and to my wife. During the night some mischievous people again drove away all the camels of the Kailouees, as well as ours. This disturbed us much, and we anticipated fresh extortion and plunder; but we were assured that we had now nothing serious to apprehend.
28th.—We stopped here all day to get back our camels. The caravan was delayed, and I wrote a detailed account of our two affairs to Government.
A nephew of Sultan En-Noor came to Seloufeeat this morning, having heard, probably, of our arrival. By him I wrote to En-Noor, from whom we expect an answer to-morrow.
In the evening eleven camels of the Kailouees were still missing, and six of ours. Nevertheless, our people determined to go on next morning. I felt much discouraged this evening. A succession of bad affairs was constantly contradicting the assurances of our escort and their friends; the people of Seloufeeat were also excessively troublesome: there seemed no one in the place having authority. At last, near sunset, came forward a certain Haj Bashaw, declaring that we had all been too badly treated, and he would obtain for us redress. This man has considerable wealth, and is in constant communication with Mourzuk, where he sends numbers of slaves, and possesses property. He probably began to quake for his property in Mourzuk, fearing the Turks would make reprisals. I went to bed with the assurance of this man that he would get back for us our camels; nevertheless, having been deceived a thousand times, I had my misgivings. Yet I did not forget we had twice been delivered out of the hands of bandits by our escort and friends, so that we ought not to despair of seeing a brighter and a quieter time. After midnight I had a few hours of refreshing sleep.