Nevertheless, we had been told that everything was abundant in this place. It appears all the sheep are at a distance, out to graze; as for bullocks, there are none. Dr. Overweg drew out his bottle of port wine, and we three Europeans soon made an end of that, and retired for the night in pretty good spirits.
Dr. Overweg and Yusuf calculated the number of people who were reported to be in pursuit of us from Tajetterat to the Marabouteen, at three hundred and sixty. The passage of the expedition from Tajetterat to Tintalous has cost the Government about one hundred and fifty pounds sterling, at the least. I cannot get over this. However, let us raise our hearts in thankfulness to Almighty Providence, who still watches over us, preserves our health, and saves us from destruction.
Promises of the Sultan—Yellow-painted Women—Presents—Anecdotes—Prepare to visit En-Noor—Our Reception—Dialogue—Seeming Liberality of the Sultan—Greediness of his People—No Provisions to be got—Fat Women—Nephew of the Sultan—Tanelkum Beggars—Weather—A Divorced Lady—Aheer Money—Our Camels again stolen—Account of the Tanelkums—Huckster Women—Aheer Landscape—Various Causes of Annoyance—No News of the Camels—Anecdote of my Servants—Storms—Revolution in the Desert—Name of the Country—Dr. Overweg—Money and Tin—Saharan Signs—Habits of the Rain—Burial of a Woman—Demands of Es-Sfaxee—Salt-cakes of Bilma—People of Tintalous—Wild Animals—List of Towns and Villages—Population of Aheer and Ghat.
Sept. 4th.—This morning I sent Yusuf with our recommendations to En-Noor. He returned in the best possible humour, repeating that the Sultan was determined to protect us, and see us safe to Soudan and Bornou.
A freed black came into my tent, played on his one-stringed fiddle, and sang an extempore song for the protection of the Consul. I gave him a handkerchief. It appears that he is from Tunis.
Yesterday, some specimens of the women of the lower classes of this town came to our encampment. I was astonished to see them such barbarians as to daub their faces with yellow ochre. I did not expect this in the Mahommedan country of Aheer. They had a little ghaseb, a few onions, and other little things to barter. It is the most difficult thing in the world to deal with them; and it requires as long to exchange things of the value of a penny, as for two London merchants to agree about merchandise of the value of a hundred thousand pounds!
When I had paid the En-Noor escort, I made a present to Yusuf and Said. To the former I gave a fine burnouse (value thirty-four mahboubs), and told him I did so as a compensation for the extraordinary difficulties which we had encountered on the road from Ghat to Aheer, but that I could not write to Government for a present for him unless we could make some treaties with the inhabitants and princes of Central Africa. To Said I gave a veneese and a lecture. Our servants have not behaved so well as they ought to have done, considering that they are treated so much better than the servants of Muslims.