The most extraordinary reports are beginning to circulate about us and our affairs. It has been confidently spread about that the three Azgher, who followed us from Tajetterat, had a letter in their possession, which they were to show to all the population beyond the Ghat territory, written by Khanouhen, to the effect that we were to be murdered, as soon as we got beyond that territory, by whomsoever the attempt might be made.
Another report is, that the sixty maharees, said to have been in pursuit of us at Taghajeet, did actually arrive at that district, but finding us too far ahead for them they returned; they came by the way of Tuat. These Haghars were to have fallen upon us during the night, and murdered all of us, even the Tanelkums, except Oud-el-Khair and two others. There is a route which leads direct to Tuat from Taghajeet, and also another from Aisou to Tuat.
With regard to the marabouts, they seem quiet enough. It would appear there is an enormous fellow amongst them, who every year, during one night, flies to Mekka and back again.
They report to the people that, insomuch as we are recommended by the great Sultan of the Turks, Abd-el-Majeed, by the Pasha of Tripoli, and all his marabouts, by the Pasha and great marabouts of Mourzuk, by all the big and mighty people of Ghat and the Haghars, but more especially as they have found our names written in their books, and that we were to come to them and visit their holy city,—with a thousand other such reasons—they (the marabouts) have determined to receive us with open arms. The marabouts of all countries pretend to find events written plainly, or shadowed forth, in their books.
After giving away about a hundred and fifty pounds sterling, the greatest part, however, forced gifts, we have received our first present in Aheer, viz. two melons, some onions, and a small quantity of wheat this evening, from Haj Bashaw, the influential man of Seloufeeat, already mentioned. There is still a drawback in this, for the giver knew the father of Yusuf, and was anxious to show favour to his son, my interpreter. But the fact must be recorded as something wonderful.
The people of our caravan, escort and camel-drivers, offer us nothing; to them it would appear a sin to give anything to a Christian. Such are the people we travel with. In regard to the matter of presents, God give me patience with them.
30th.—There is no answer from En-Noor, nor are our camels forthcoming; which things naturally cause us anxiety. But let us hope for the best, and pray to God to deliver us from all our misfortunes.
We wait here to-day to see the results, and proceed to-morrow. This morning I made the account of the forced passage of the expedition from Taghajeet to this place (Marabouteen). It amounts to the enormous sum of nine hundred mahboubs—more than one hundred and fifty pounds sterling! I do not know what Government will think of it; but the expenditure incurred was certainly to save our lives.