Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1 eBook

James Richardson (explorer of the Sahara)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1.
to Tripoli and beyond, in spite of certain changes of route, is as rife as ever, and in this respect everything remains to be done.  But, on the other hand, the trade which, I trust, is providentially intended to supersede this inhuman traffic, is on the increase, though slightly.  If we can pave the way for the civilising steps of European commerce, either by treaties or by personal influence, we shall have accomplished a great work.  Let us hope and pray that the necessary health, strength, and power of persuasion be granted to us!

CHAPTER II.

Start from the Masheeah—­Painful Parting—­Chaouch’s Tent—­A Family Quarrel—­Wady Majeeneen—­A Rainy Day—­Moknee’s Wives—­Two mad Fellows—­Great Ascent of Gharian—­Tedious Day’s Work—­The Castle—­View over the Country—­Garrison—­Troglodytes—­Turkish Tax-gathering—­Quarrelsome Servants—­Proceed over the lofty Plain—­Underground Villages—­Kaleebah—­The Batoum—­Geology—­A Slave Caravan—­Cheerful Blacks—­Rows—­Oasis of Mizdah—­Double Village—­Intestine Discords—­Interview with the Sheikh Omer—­A Pocket Province—­A Dream of Good Omen—­Quarrels on Quarrels—­Character of Fezzanees—­A Leopard abroad.

The preliminary miseries of a great journey being at length over, I rose early on the morning of the 30th of March and started from the Masheeah, a kind of suburb of Tripoli, distant in the country, at six.  Hope and the spirit of adventure sustained my courage; but it is always sad to part with those we love, even at the call of duty.  However, I at length mustered strength to bid adieu to my wife—­the almost silent adieu of affection.  How many things that were thought were left unsaid on either side!  It will be pleasant to fill up all blanks when we talk of these days after a safe return from this arduous undertaking.

It was a fresh, cheerful morning, succeeding several days of sultry weather—­an auspicious commencement of the journey.  My chaouch, Mohammed Souweea, preceded me on his great horse, murmuring some Arab ditty, and I followed hard on my little donkey.  The desert assails the walls of Tripoli, and in half an hour we were in the Sahara sands, which here and there rise in great mounds.  I should have liked to have pushed on to some considerable distance at once; but the habits of the country are dilatory, and one must conform to them.  In a couple of hours we came to the chaouch’s tent, where he had a wife, five children, and seven brothers, one of whom was blind.  He, too, was to go through the sad ceremony of parting with his family; and he burst into tears when they surrounded and embraced him.  I am sorry to say, however, that before this affecting scene was concluded, a quarrel had began between the blind man and the chaouch’s wife, about two Tunisian piastres which were missing, she accusing him of theft and he indignantly repelling the charge.  These Easterns seem to have minds constructed on different patterns from ours, and are apt to introduce such petty discussions at the most solemn moments; but we must not, therefore, be hasty in concluding that there is any sham in their sorrow, or affectation in their pathetic bewailings.

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Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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