En-Noor, as soon as the news of this aggression reached him, sent off a posse of people, and then called in the inhabitants of a neighbouring village; so that, when all was over, our encampment was surrounded by a disorderly multitude of protectors till day-light.
To my tent came the confidential servant of En-Noor, and everybody was talking, drinking coffee, and making merry. After all, it was well to have these people, for if the thirteen robbers had shown ordinary courage, in our unprepared state we should have had a good deal of work to do, and might some of us have got bad sword-cuts or spear-thrusts.
En-Noor, they say, is exceedingly angry about this attack, and has sent eleven mounted men after the robbers to seize their camels, which if he gets hold of he intends to confiscate. On Amankee calling on him he observed, “You, Amankee, being a native of Soudan, and not a Muslim of Tripoli, are like the Kailouees. You can fire on these Kailouee robbers. Get your gun loaded, ready for any other occasion.”
At daylight, after lecturing my servants for not giving the alarm (for, with the exception of Said’s wife, they were all so terror-stricken—literally struck dumb with terror—that they could not speak, much-less cry out), I sent Amankee off at the heels of the robbers. In all such emergencies I have found no one like Amankee; he is a complete bloodhound, and can scent his way through all the desert, and follow the steps of the most agile and quick-witted fugitive. I knew Amankee would pick up some of the tea and bring news of the robbers. He returned, and fulfilled my expectations: he picked up about six ounces of tea scattered on the road, and brought the news that the robbers were from Tidek and Taghajeet. They had come some days’ journey to plunder us. I learned, also, that the rascals, just before they attacked us, had been feasting at a wedding in Tintalous.
I grieved very much for the loss of my tea, and employed six or seven hours in picking the stones out of what Amankee recovered. I had greatly coveted this luxury, and set my heart upon it; and now my idol was ruthlessly torn from me by a band of robbers! Amankee, knowing my feelings, had offered a reward for the rest, telling the people he saw on the road that the tea could only be drank by Christians, and was poison for Muslims! This fib drew from the astonished Kailouees a woful ejaculation—“Allah! Allah!” Many funny scenes were enacted during the few minutes of the attack of the robbers. The other negress, a wife of another of the servants, was quite dumb; but Said’s wife crept around the tent like a dog, on her hands and feet, giving the alarm, but fearing to rise up lest she should be felled down by the robbers. The servants of the Germans hearing the squalling thought it was Said “beating his wife”—a thing common in these countries. Dr. Barth heard all sorts of noises, but imagined they were all from the celebration of the wedding. It is always well to examine suspicious circumstances. A strange camel had been seen straying at sunset near our tent, which excited the suspicions of myself and Dr. Barth. If we had obeyed our presentiments, we might have discovered the intended attack, or, at least, have made some preparations.