Like the roving Arabs, the Moors frequently remove from one place to another, according to the season of the year or the convenience of pasturage. In the month of February, when the heat of the sun scorches up every sort of vegetation in the desert, they strike their tents and approach the negro country to the south, where they reside until the rains commence, in the month of July. At this time, having purchased corn and other necessaries from the negroes, in exchange for salt, they again depart to the northward, and continue in the desert until the rains are over, and that part of the country becomes burnt up and barren.
This wandering and restless way of life, while it inures them to hardships, strengthens at the same time the bonds of their little society, and creates in them an aversion towards strangers which is almost insurmountable. Cut off from all intercourse with civilised nations, and boasting an advantage over the negroes, by possessing, though in a very limited degree, the knowledge of letters, they are at once the vainest and proudest, and perhaps the most bigoted, ferocious, and intolerant of all the nations on the earth—combining in their character the blind superstition of the negro with the savage cruelty and treachery of the Arab.
CHAPTER XIII—ESCAPE FROM CAPTIVITY
Having, as hath been related, obtained permission to accompany Ali to Jarra, I took leave of Queen Fatima, who, with much grace and civility, returned me part of my apparel; and the evening before my departure, my horse, with the saddle and bridle, were sent me by Ali’s order.
Early on the morning of the 26th of May I departed from the camp of Bubaker, accompanied by my two attendants, Johnson and Demba, and a number of Moors on horseback, Ali, with about fifty horsemen, having gone privately from the camp during the night. We stopped about noon at Farani, and were there joined by twelve Moors riding upon camels, and with them we proceeded to a watering-place in the woods, where we overtook Ali and his fifty horsemen. They were lodged in some low shepherd’s tents near the wells.
May 28.—Early in the morning the Moors saddled their horses, and Ali’s chief slave ordered me to get in readiness. In a little time the same messenger returned, and, taking my boy by the shoulder, told him in the Mandingo language, that “Ali was to be his master in future;” and then turning to me, “The business is settled at last,” said he; “the boy, and everything but your horse, goes back to Bubaker, but you may take the old fool” (meaning Johnson the interpreter) “with you to Jarra.” I made him no answer; but being shocked beyond description at the idea of losing the poor boy, I hastened to Ali, who was at breakfast before his tent, surrounded by many of his courtiers. I told him (perhaps in rather too passionate a strain), that whatever imprudence I had been guilty of in coming into his country, I