A few robbers have often visited us before this. When I had an interview with En-Noor I asked for a couple of guards, but he refused them, on the plea that they were unnecessary. Although he knew well the country is now full of thieves, and told us so, he never expected this audacious attack of thirteen maharees! Soudan abounds with thieves, and we must now always keep watch. May we, however, in our further progress, have nothing more to fear than petty larceny; and we shall have reason indeed to be thankful!
We shift our Encampment—En-Noor’s Circular—The Kadi’s Decision—No Progress in the Sahara—Aghadez Gumruk—Scorpions—Election of Sultans in Aheer—Present of Salutation—Paying for finding lost Property—Courier from the new Sultan—No Presents sent us—Notes on Denham—A Bornouese Measure—Intended Razzia—Firing off Gunpowder—Hypotheses of Danger—Dress and Women—Enroute to Bilma—Soudan Caravan—Visit from Tintaghoda—Aheer Honey—Modes of Measurement—Power of En-Noor—Visits to him from great People—Stations on the Bilma Road—Salt-Trade—Account of our Pursuers at Tajetterat—Costume of the Kailouees—Their Weapons—Poisoned Arrows—Charms—Female Dress—Names of Articles of Costume—Character of Kailouees.
Sept. 17th.—In the morning En-Noor sent a message that we must immediately move from our present encampment on our sand-hills, a quarter of a mile from the town, where we had a pleasant view of everything in the valley and around, and come near the people. So in the course of the day we pitched tents close by the houses of the town. We found that we were not so much molested by the inhabitants (i.e. by their curiosity) as we expected.
I had heard in the previous evening that En-Noor, two or three days ago, had written, by means of one of the learned men of this place, to all the towns and villages around him, begging the Sheikhs and people not to offer us any molestation whilst we were residing here, under his immediate protection, as his guests, and as sacred persons recommended to his care. This shows good-will in the venerable Sultan. He sent to us this morning the result of the Kadi’s decision, respecting the robbers. This singular question was put to the Kadi, “Whether it was lawful to rob and murder the Christians by night?” Answer, “No; on the contrary, the Christians may fire on and kill the Muslim robbers.” The Sultan, it appears, attaches great importance to this decision, and counts on it to obtain the suffrages of all his people in our favour.
Such are the circumstances attending the first visit of Christians to Aheer! I believe this attack will do our servants good. They see now, that, by a little resistance, the most audacious of thieves will be put to flight. We ourselves shall also keep better watch for the future.