20th.—At length Hateetah may be said to be reported “in sight,” and we are busy preparing for departure. The escort has arrived at Tesaoua, and will be here on Saturday at latest. As the Germans are still at Tuggerter, we shall proceed on the Ghat route together, after all: it will be a tough piece of work, whichever way performed. The heat continues intense—from 100 deg. to 104 deg., and 130 deg. in the sun. Cooler weather is expected in August; but at present all the natives complain, and fevers are becoming prevalent. In the desert we shall escape that danger; for disease comes only in the moist depression of the plateau on which Mourzuk stands. We hear talk, by the way, of a fine new route—only forty days—just opened, from Ghat to Timbuctoo, across the deserts of Haghar. The present Sultan of the Haghar Tuaricks is called Ghamama.
One of our party, who undertook to accompany us to take the management of the boat, has not proved equal to the occasion; and I have therefore written to Tripoli, to request that two Moorish sailors, of Jerbah if possible, should be sent up by the direct route to Bornou. I had almost engaged a very excellent person at Tripoli, the captain of the vessel in which I arrived; but when he called at the Consulate on the subject, some minor official ordered him off with a contemptuous “Barra! barra!” and he accordingly yielded to the solicitations of his crew and embarked without seeing me. There is too much of this self-sufficiency and off-handedness in all Consulates in the Levant, where a grain of authority is apt at once to magnify a man, in his own estimation, into a mighty potentate. I regret my Jerbine captain very much; he originally volunteered to accompany us, and entered into my plans with an enthusiasm and intelligence rare among Muslims.
These small details of our expedition are interesting to me to record, though probably many will think them superfluous. Perhaps they will serve to give a true idea of the magnitude of the undertaking, and of the great responsibility which weighed upon me, and thus prove an anticipatory excuse for any accusation of shortcoming or dilatoriness that may be preferred against me. I will not, however, enter further into the business-details of the expedition—merely observing that, among other things to which I had to attend during my stay in Mourzuk, were, in the first place, to collect provisions and stores for a journey that may last two years; secondly, to purchase presents for the princes and other distinguished persons of the interior; and thirdly, to provide against the casualties of the journey, payment of salaries, &c. All these things I had to do on my own responsibility. Among other things, I have purchased from Mr. Gagliuffi an Arab gun and pair of pistols, inlaid with silver and curiously wrought, for the sum of 180 mahboubs. This is for a present to the Sheikh of Bornou, who will expect something pleasing to the eye as well as the boat, which he may at first, perhaps, not appreciate at its full value.