They brought in a bowl of milk, and as the chaouch still continued to caress his children, I left him to pass the night in his tent, and pushed on to Wady Majeeneen, where my portion of the caravan had already encamped. Mr. F. Warrington, with my German colleagues, were a little in advance. The horses of the Pasha’s cavalry were feeding around; for when the first belt of sand is past, the country becomes an undulating plain—a prairie, as they would call it in America—covered with patches of corn herbage. Here and there are fields of barley; and a few Arab tents, with flocks and herds near at hand, give a kind of animation to the scene.
Next day (21st) it rained hard; but we went on a little to overtake Drs. Barth and Overweg, whom we found in company with Mr. F. Warrington, Mr. Vice-consul Reade, and Mr. Gaines the American consul. One of Mr. Interpreter Moknee’s wives had also come out here, to have some settlement with her husband about support before she let him go. The gentleman has two wives, both negresses; and had already made an arrangement for the other, who has several children, of six mahboubs per month. First come, first served. The second wife, who has two children, only got three mahboubs a month. However, when matters were arranged, the pair became rather more loving. These settlements are always hard matters to manage, all the world over, and it is pleasant to get rid of them. By the way, a son of the worthy Moknee, by a white woman now dead—a lad of about twelve years of age—accompanies us, at least as far as Mourzuk.
The most remarkable persons, however, whom I found at the encampment were a couple of insane fellows, determined to follow us—perhaps to show “by one satiric touch” what kind of madcap enterprise was ours. The first was a Neapolitan, who had dogged me all the while I was at Tripoli, pestering me to make a contract with him as servant. To humour his madness, I never said I would not; and the poor fellow, taking my silence for consent, had come out asking for his master. They tried to send him away, but he would take orders from none but me. I gave him two loaves of bread and a Tunisian piastre, and also made him a profound bow, politely requesting him to go about his business. He did so in a very dejected manner. During the time he was with the caravan he worked as hard as any one else in his tattered clothes, and, perhaps, he would have been of more use than many a sane person.
The other was a madman indeed, a Muslim, with an unpleasant habit of threatening to cut everybody’s throat. Hearing that we were going to Soudan, he followed us, bringing with him a quantity of old metal, principally copper, with which he proposed to trade. He gave himself out as a shereef, or descendant of the Prophet. No sooner had he arrived than he begun to quarrel on all sides, and, of course, talked very freely of cutting throats, stabbing, shooting, and other humorous things. Every one was afraid of him. He fawned, however, on us Europeans, whilst he had a large knife concealed under his clothes ready to strike. They were obliged at length to disarm him, and send him back under a guard to Tripoli. We here took leave of Mr. Reade, who gave me some last explanations about letters to the interior. It rained furiously in the afternoon.