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I had no objection to proceed, so gathering myself up with no little difficulty, for I was very tired, we all went to another den of some wild beast, where scattered bones and other traces indicated its recent occupation. Ohmed Mahomed creeping in, for it was much less than the one at Dafarre, remarked that there was but just room for me. As I expected he was going to remain, I pulled off my boots and belt, and laid them with my pistols down at some little distance from me, and should have gone immediately to sleep, had not Ohmed Mahomed, made preparations to depart, and told me, as he got out, that I must not sleep till Zaido came with my rice. This was quite an accidental observation, and so natural, that I only asked him to send Zaido quickly, and took up a position by placing myself at full length across the entrance of the cave, which was not above eight feet wide, so that Moosa and Garahmee, who had been squatting in their usual manner in front, could not conveniently come in.
. Some moments after Ohmed Mahomed left, Garahmee, under pretence of stretching himself, laid down his spear, and turning round walked some little way until he could get a good view of the camp, towards which he looked with an inquisitive gaze, that told me at once I had been betrayed into this place for the purpose of assassination, and felt assured that a struggle for my life was now at hand. My heart beat thick, but I determined not to show the least feeling of mistrust until their game had begun; and placing myself a little more under cover of the roof of the cave, awaited the first signal of attack to seize my pistols, and defend myself as I best might. It may be astonishing to suppose how two men could so far overcome the fear of being instantly killed by my fire-arms; but Garahmee, who was a most cunning man, never dreamt that his son, as he used to call me, suspected in the least bis design, so carelessly bad I been accustomed to trust myself with him, and had been so deceived by his particularly mild and quiet deportment. His first step, after watching the occupation of the camp, was to endeavour to take Ohmed Mahomed's place in the cave, but this I instantly objected to in a tone so suddenly harsh that he involuntarily started, and sat down again just at my feet, but outside the entrance. All this time Moosa had been sitting about five paces in front. His shield, held before him, concealed his whole body, a black face and busby head of hair alone appearing above its upper edge; his spear was held perpendicularly, with its butt end placed upon the earth, in the usual manner, when an attack is meditated
Garahmee was evidently disconcerted by my refusal to admit him into the cave, and perbaps if I had assumed a greater apparent suspicion, he would have deferred his attempt until a more favourable opportunity: but seeing me seemingly undisturbed, he took his seat at my head, and asked peremptorily for some dollars; and Moosa wants some too,' added he, turning and looking with an expression readily understood by the latter worthy, who instantly rose and taking the place just vacated by Garahmee, seconded the motion by holding out his hand for ' nummo' (dollars). In my belt was the
pouch made by Cruttenden for my watch, which I had carried in the vain expectation of making it serviceable in deciding the longitude of my halting places, but perceiving the character of the people, had never brought it out for fear of exciting the cupidity of those around me. Its round form, however, as it lay in the pouch attached to my waist-belt, made an impression as if dollars were there concealed, as I afterwards learnt from Ohmed Mahomed, who assigned this as one reason for the attempt which had been made. Drawing the belt and pouch towards me, in the loops of which were still my pistols, I took one of them into my hand, and throwing myself as far back into the cave as I could, told them that I had no dollars for them till I got to Abasha (Abyssinia), at the same time telling Moosa to go for Ohmed Medina and Ebin Izaak, as I could not talk to them in their language. They were taken rather aback at the strong position I had assumed, and in the decided manner in which I had met the first step to an outrage ; for amongst these people a demand for something always precedes the attack, to enable them to throw their victim, even if he suspect their object, off his guard, in the vain hope that he might be enabled to purchase peace by giving them what they ask for. Neither party, under present circumstances, now knew what farther to do. I, of course, had done sufficient for defence, and they found that they had too suddenly for their purpose, laid themselves open to my suspicion; but Garahmee, with ready thought, on my telling Moosa a second time to go, volunteered to be the bearer of the message himself, and retiring relieved me of his presence, and himself of the unpleasant feeling which must have arisen in his mind on having been so completely foiled, and seeing, besides, that I was perfectly aware of his intentions.'—ib. pp. 115–119.
The party was subject to frequent interruptions from the hostile demonstrations of the tribes through whose territory they passed. These are in a state of almost perpetual war, by which the cunning and ferocity of their nature are fostered, and a fearful hindrance to their civilization interposed. Despising the arts of peace and neglectful of the most simple modes of husbandry, they subsist on mutual rapine and violence,'hateful and hating one another.' Whatever other regions may furnish in support of the theories of our poets and would-be philosophers, it is manifest from the concurrent testimony of many travellers, that Africa contains no Arcadian scenes, in which the purity and benevolence of our nature are exhibited to greater advantage, than under the so-called perverting influences of Christianity. It is a melancholy fact that every extension of our knowledge brings with it additional evidence on this point. No matter in what direction our travellers proceed, they cannot advance a step without being challenged by the proofs of human depravity, without meeting with indications of treachery and faithlessness, as subversive of social order as
they are incompatible with the devout recognition of an intelligent first cause. The soil of heathenism is saturated with the blood of its devotees, and would in many cases be left an uninhabited waste, were it not for the conservative elements which are deeply seated in the human breast. A graphic description is given of the mode of warfare adopted by the Dankalli tribes, which though sufficiently disgusting we shall transcribe for the information of our readers. It may be well to enquire whether the tactics of European war are less reprehensible, or, in the judgment of superior beings, more accordant with the obligations and spirit of our religion.
‘About four o'clock, a sudden commotion among the Kafilah men, all rushing to spears and shields, and loud shouts of ‘Ahkeem Ahkeems' awoke me from my siesta. Jumping up from my mat, I seized my fire-arms, and ran towards the place where Ohmed Medina and Ebin Izaak were beckoning me to come. In front, was a crowd of some twelve or fourteen men fighting in the greatest desperation, and so near to us, that the spears that were thrown almost struck the shields of those with whom I was sitting About thirty yards beyond the combatants, who, in close fight, were yelling, struggling, and falling, another line, consisting chiefly of my Hy Soumaulee escort, sat with their shields before them, in the same quiet spectator-like fashion as ourselves. I must observe, however, that Adam Burrah and Moosa, as soon as they saw me in the line with the Tajourah people, came from the opposite side, and sat close in front of me. Ohmed Medina told me not to fire, or take any part in the business except to take care of myself, as the quarrel was a private one, and that no one would attack us, if we did not commence hostilities. To make more secure against an accident, Ebin Izaak kept his hand on my right arm all the time, to prevent me taking up either of my guns that lay upon the ground on each side of me. “During the fight I noticed, that occasionally one of the Kafilah men would spring up from his sitting posture, and with a loud shout run towards the combatants. He was invariably answered by one of the Hy Soumaulee opposite, who rushed to meet him; so that in a short time, more thandouble the numberofthe original fighters were engaged. ‘The contest which was now taking place in my sight was an actual representation, on a small scale, of the mode of fighting practised by the Dankalli tribes. When two hostile bodies of these people meet, it is not usual for the whole to engage, but sitting down in two opposite lines at the distance of sixty or eighty yards from each other, they await the result, produced by the yelling, jumping, and speechifying of their leaders, who for this purpose stand up immediately in front of their men. “At the intended attack upon our Kafilah at Wadallissan, by the Bursane Bedouins, Garahmee, in addition to his duty of keeping the people squatting upon their heels, evidently recited some martial song, or speech, which at intervals, was responded to with loud yells, and shaking of the spears in the direction of the enemy.
‘A few becoming sufficiently excited by these means, they rush from either side into the intervening space. The combat then commences, by each of these singling out his opponent and squatting opposite to him, in their usual attitude, at the distance of a few yards. Balancing their spears in a threatening manner, they spar at each other for several minutes, until one conceives he has a favourable opportunity of launching his spear, when, springing to his feet, he darts it with great force and precision. Seldom, however, any injury is thus produced, for his wary antagonist, with his shield dashes it aside, and then endeavours to break it by jumping and stamping upon it, as it lies upon the ground. He, in his turn, threatens with his weapon, his spearless opponent, who, bounding from side to side, in a stooping posture, endeavours to cover with his shield his whole body, save the head, and thus gives no steady object for the aim of the coming missile. At length, the spear being thrown probably with the same harmless effect, both snatch their knives from their girdle, and rush with great impetuosity upon each other, throwing their shields to the ground to admit of their grappling with their left hands, whilst with the right they strike swift and heavy blows at the neck and into the left side. A few moments decide the murderous conflict, and the loud shout of the victor, as he pushes from his front the beavy corpse of the slain, proclaims his success in the gladiatorial combat.
“During the fight, continual shouts of encouragement, or of derision, are raised by the noncombatants, who are waiting only the stimulus of revenge, on seeing a friend or leader killed, or to be prompted by the desire to assist some wounded companion, when they then rush into the conflict, from their previous couchant position, in the rear. No sooner, however, does any one spring forward for this purpose, than he is met by some brave of the opposite side, who runs to encounter him. Sometimes two or three, or even more, hasten for the same purpose; but corresponding opponents leap forward to engage hand to hand in a succession of duels, with those who shew this anxiety to mingle in the fray. In this manner the excitement spreads, pair after pair enter the ensanguined lists, and new comers continue to lengthen out the contest, until one side exhausts its warriors, and the weak and cowardly of that party alone are sitting in the rear. The victors now joined by their reserve friends rush forward to attack these, and kill whoever resists, while the rest, throwing aside their spears and shields, fly for their lives. Thus terminates a sanguinary affair, for of the number of warriors actually engaged, one half, on the side of the defeated party, must be slain; sometimes, with very little loss on the part of the victors.” —Ib. pp. 275–279.
The habits of the people are in strict accordance with the low state of civilization denoted in this passage. What will our fashionable loungers think of the following description of an African toilette, consequent on the slaughter of a sheep which Mr. Johnston had presented to his companions?
“I was very much amused, when the sheep was slaughtered, by the contest which took place for the intestines and fat. It was of the usual Adal kind, covered with short hair, entirely white, except the small black head. The tail was large and heavy, consisting principally of a huge deposit of suet overhanging from the rump. Two or three applicants were almost fighting about the possession of this, which I at length settled by dividing between Garahmee and Moosa, who retired with it, borrowing my copper cooking-pot and a large wooden bowl from Zaido, for some purpose or other I could not make out, but which determined me to watch their proceedings to satisfy my curiosity. Having melted the fat over a low fire they soon prepared with camels' dung and dry sticks, they poured the oily liquid into the bowl; Moosa then took his seat upon the ground, sitting between Garahmee's legs, who commenced, with a long skewer-like comb of one prong, to comb out and arrange the rather tangled mass of long stiff curly hair, which was the pride and chiefest care of Moosa. Having tastefully adjusted the ends of the hair, behind and over the ears, in one regular line, and brought it to a level surface all over the head, Garahmee then took a large mouthful of the melted fat from the bowl, and suddenly applying his lips to the surface of the hair, continued to send it in spirts, so as fairly to spread it over every part, and to do it effectually and properly, taking several fresh pulls at the bowl, until he thought a just half was expended, when he got up and exchanged places with Moosa, who did for him the same friendly office. Garahmee, however, was quite bald in front, so all his share of the grease was not only blown over the hair on the back part of his head, but also well rubbed in with the hands. After this operation had been duly performed, the character of their hair was completely changed, and at a distance seemed, Moosa's more especially, as if each had on a skull-cap of frosted silver.’—ib. pp. 142, 143.
In their feasts there is a similar want of all which springs out of the refinement of Europe. On one occasion a camel ‘that had been ailing many days’ was slaughtered, and the revelry which followed is thus briefly described.
‘One party of the revellers who sat near my hut, I observed rolling up strips of the flesh, and stowing them away in their affaleetahs for a feast at the next halting place, as the Dankalli certainly prefer the flesh of animals cooked, excepting the liver and other viscera, which are almost always eaten raw. The same party had also come in for the backbone in their share, and after the fleshy parts had been stript off and preserved for a better opportunity of cooking, the assembled circle very fairly, and with much brotherly love, sent the raw juicy bone round, each one taking a fair chop at it with his heavy dagger, and then making a good strong pull at the almost detached piece with his teeth. j, this manner they soon cleared and divided the bone, and each one then possessed himself of a single vertebra to look over, and finish his repast, which did not conclude until every bit of the cartilage had been torn off and eaten.”—ib. p.214.'
Arriving in Shoa our author was bitterly disappointed at the