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A WARRIOR EATING.
wonderfully interesting and almost inaccessible country. I hurried by the first steamer from Suakim to Massowah, the port from which the mission was to start inland, and I immediately called on the governor, an American gentleman who had been for years in the service of the Khedive, and was now the envoy deputed by the Egyptians for Abyssinia. To his good nature I am indebted for one of the most delightful and interesting journeys I have ever undertaken.
Mason Bey, on hearing of my great desire to accompany the mission, at once attached me to his staff. Before the sun had set on the day of my arrival, I was ensconced in the palace as a sort of under-secretary, with free use
of the Bey's larder, cellar, and cheroot-box. WI
HEN Gordon Pasha was shut up in Khar- On the afternoon of Monday, April 7, 1884,
toum, and the Egyptian garrisons in the the flagships and forts of Massowah thundered a eastern Soudan were menaced by the Mahdi's salute, as the Admiral landed and was received fanatical followers, the British and Khedival by Mason Bey at the palace stairs. In less than governments deemed it advisable to send a an hour the mission started on its adventurous pacific mission to King Johannes of Abyssinia, journey. Before we had quitted the plains of to enlist the favor and assistance of the Ethio- Monkolu the sun had passed away, and as we pian monarch, in the evacuation by the gar- began to struggle over the rough, undulating risons and Christian inhabitants of the several ground toward the Abyssinian chain of mounEgyptian towns bordering on the Abyssinian tains, a deep, yellow gloom suffused the sky. frontier then threatened by the Soudanese, and But this soon gave way to the powerful but to allow them to pass unmolested through his mellow light of the African moon, which was territories to the coast.
now casting long shadows of our men and beasts Sir William Hewitt had been appointed the over the silver sand. Here and there the moonEnglish envoy for this purpose, and the cam- beams lighted up in ghastly distinctness some paign against Osman Digna having lulled for wild Arab warrior, peering at us in curiosity a while, there was a general rush of war-cor- from the bush along the road. A few miles respondents for this opportunity of writing up farther, and the route turned abruptly to the and illustrating an almost unknown region. right, and gradually began to narrow into the So many wished to accompany the mission bed of a dried-up watercourse. We were now that the British admiral was compelled to re- within a short distance of Saahti, our intended fuse all the applicants. Hearing of this fact, halting-place for the night. I would not appear before him to face a re- Presently, a few hundred yards in front of fusal, and I fattered myself that, not having us, some white tents stood boldly out in the applied, I was free by some other means to moonlight. To our surprise we found cookingtry to accompany the mission through this fires blazing, and an evening meal already i VOL. XLIV.- 58.
pared for us. A good friend had arrived in test we had yet experienced. Many of us were advance of our party, pitched tents, and pre- compelled to swathe our heads in wet towels pared a sumptuous repast. We owed all this to lessen the chance of sunstroke. In the courtesy to a gay old slave-dealer, who had re- afternoon of the second day an officer with cently given up dealing in live stock in favor of twenty men, sent down from the mountains by dead, which he sold in the shape of butcher- Balata Gubru, a frontier chief, arrived in camp meat to the various steamers coming into the for the purpose of taking over the king's presport of Massowah. I had seen this gentleman ents, and of relieving our bashi-bazouk guard, at the beginning of our journey, doubled up which now returned to Massowah. At sunrise on a small donkey, and dressed in his ordinary the following morning we moved in a southfashionable attire, a light pink stuff gabardine, erly direction, skirting the Ailet hills along a with yellow silk-embroidered sash bound round mule-path, through mimosa woods teeming with
his waist. His face, almost cadaverous in its game. We halted for the night at Sabagumba, contour, was framed by a white bullion-fringed where our guns found plenty of quail to embelturban; his eyes were sparkling; and a sinister lish the evening meal. An hour before dawn smile played about his lips.
found us ascending the Rara Pass, and at midThough our camping-ground was at least day we camped in the narrow valley of Genda. four hundred feet above the plains, yet there Our mules had not had so happy a grazing-place was no perceptible difference in the tempera- for many a day. The ground was covered with ture. The thermometer was steady at some- wild clover, fine grass, and buttercups. A brook thing like ninety throughout the night. An wound its way down the valley, sprawling over hour before sunrise we struck camp, bade fare- rocky beds, and hemmed in by tall grasses. well to our gallant host, and started for Ailet. Our sportsmen were soon busy on the sloping We soon began to experience rough traveling. sides of the valley, thick with foliage and full Immediately on leaving Saahti, the aspect of of guinea-fowl. We remained in this happy the country changed. The ground was strewn place for one day, awaiting the arrival of the with huge granite boulders, and here and there lieutenant of the Abyssinian chief Ras Alula. patches of stunted mimosa or wild olive-trees This officer came about midday, with an escort broke our route. Always ascending, moving of a hundred ragged-looking fellows clothed over chains of low hills, we kept to the dried- in cotton knee-breeches, with togas in various up watercourse, the bed of which so narrowed stages of dirtslung about their shoulders. While that it was difficult for us to make our way a few were mounted on mules, the majority even in Indian file. The sun beat down upon tramped on foot, armed with spears, swords, our little caravan, making life almost unbear- and muskets ranging from the first specimens able. Occasionally we would be fanned by of that arm to the modern Remington. There a slight breeze as we surmounted some ridge, was no discipline or order with these warriors. from which the sight of the floating vapors They herded together in groups, or lounged still clinging to the faint blue peaks of the dis- about camp in pairs, staring and gazing at us tant mountains cheered us with the fact that in the rudest curiosity. Their leader, a short, we were slowly though surely approaching a spare man, with narrow face and close, cuncountry of cool shades and running waters. ning eyes, was a person of some distinction. Scorching sun, burning rocks, and shadeless He told us that Alula anxiously awaited our mimosa-bushes held their own till we arrived coming, that he was deputed to act as our at the wells of Ailet.
guide through the passes to his chief's camp, Our day's rest at Ailet was one of the hot- which had been pitched on the plateau of
Asmara, seven thousand feet straight up the faces, made them look almost as savage as that mountain.
beast himself. Skins of black leopard, over their The next day we entered on the most seri- red and white togas, swathed their bodies. As ous part of our journey. Our first few miles with couched spears and uplifted targets they lay through mountainous scenery reminding me bore down upon us, they yelled like maniacs, a little of our own Scotch Highlands, and still madly shaking their weapons in mock defiance; more of the Turkish Balkans. Birches, cedars, and when within a few paces, with one accord acacia-and box-trees, many rare orchids, and they suddenly curbed their horses. So quickly strange plants covered the sides of the gorges. was this done that their chargers reeled back on Common flowers were in profusion; maiden- their haunches; each warrior at the same time hair ferns and lichens brushed us as we toiled lowering the point of his spear, and in silence on our way. Some of the guard in our front bowing his body before the envoys. Then afar played upon pipes roughly made out of the off from over the plain came the sound of bark of trees. The notes, sweet and mellow, drums slowly beaten. The horsemen, wheelseemed to start all the birds on our route ing round our flank, now formed an irregular into song. Climbing up almost perpendicular line in our rear. passes a thousand feet or more, skirting for a When the cloud of dust that for a moment time a rocky precipice, we suddenly emerged enveloped us cleared away, we discovered far into a narrow valley, the aspect of which was ahead, on a rocky height standing out of the unlike any we had yet seen. The whole foli- plain, a solitary white tent; on each side of age of this part of the mountain was totally it, sloping down to the plain, lines of infanunlike that a few yards below us. It seemed try were drawn up, forming a broad avenue to have changed as if by magic, so unexpected through which our party advanced. As we was the transformation from European deli- slowly moved between the lines of these dusky cacy to African crudeness of color —the Eu- footmen, the drums deeply sounded an Amphorbia candelabra gigantea, bursting into bloom haric greeting, the interpretation of which was: with clusters of red and yellow blossom; enor- “ How do you do? How do you
do ?” mous aloes in flower; and cacti parasites cling- The bright sunlight shimmering on the silver ing to the rocks, or trailing in great luxuriance bolts of the circular shields of the horsemen, and from the trees. The sun, which had been on the metal-plated trappings of their chargers; shaded from us by the dense foliage below, glittering on the myriads of spear-heads; brightnow blazed out in all its fierceness, flooding ening up the motley coloring of their headthe fantastic valley with a brilliancy that was gear and red-striped togas; and, above all, superb and almost overpowering.
the measured beating of the deep-toned kettleNext day we arrived at the foot of our last, drums, greeting us in this odd fashion, made but most difficult, ascent. The Maiensi Pass is our first reception in Abyssinia a highly imone of the steepest routes for the passage of pressive one. The envoys dismounted a few human beings to be found on the globe. It paces in front of Alula's tent. That great chief was utterly impossible to ride our horses up it; walked forward, and shook them heartily by the so we were compelled to take to our mules, and hand. Ras Alula was a man of five-and-forty, we had to nurse even these hardy little brutes of medium stature, with massive head, closenearly the whole way. A shower of stones clat- shaven face, and features somewhat Roman in tering down upon us discovered a horseman type but almost as black as a negro's. This scampering toward our party from the mouth Roman resemblance was suggested even more of the pass above. Saluting the Admiral, the by a toga thrown gracefully about his figure, messenger told him that the Ras (governor), his giving him the appearance of a statue of the master, had seen us coming, and thus early sent great Cæsar worked in bronze. But all this his greeting. The route now narrowing into a majesty was soon dispelled as he squatted on rocky defile, we suddenly emerged on the great his throne and began gesticulating. The conAbyssinian plateau. As this new world dawned tinued clutching at his drapery, the swaying upon us, the slight eminence on our right be- of his body, and the long curved sword shakcame alive with moving horsemen: at least fif- ing out behind from the folds of his toga, gave teen hundred cavalry began to spread out over the great Amharic chief more the appearance the plains in our front. At a given signal they of a chimpanzee. The reception was cordial, turned sharply, facing our party, then charged but not effusive. Repeating the questions the with seeming fury straight at us. They were drums were still asking: “How do
do? all fierce-looking men, with headgear of hand- How do you do? ” we in answer said, “ Very kerchiefs of various colors, or simply a wide well, thank you; and how are you ?” Alula white tape tied round their close curly hair, slowly replied, “ Thank you, I am well.” But after the fashion of the ancient Romans. Some to our anxious inquiries as to when and where sported lion-manes, which, fringing their dusky we would meet the King, the Ras was very
reticent, giving us an answer worthy of a Euro- of dust raced one another to the camp, strugpean diplomatist. He said, “ Only God and gling up the rocky and almost perpendicular his Majesty know that." We then retired till height on which stood the stronghold, three our sable friend should become more commu- hundred feet above us. nicative.
The following day we said good-by for a Asmara, where we camped for a time with time to Ras Alula, and started en route for Alula, is a village of at least 2000 inhabitants. Adowa. Traveling in a southerly direction, we The houses are built of stone, and are circu- left the Ras's stronghold on our left rear. Our lar in form, with thatched, extinguisher-shaped route lay through roughly plowed patches of roofs. Its church is also of the same material, ground, between low, rocky hills, from which and is highly decorated with crude pictures of Addi Techlai, though impregnable to primithe Virgin and Child, the apostles and saints. tive modes of attack, could be made untenable Before the sun left the plateau, presents came by means of modern artillery. into camp, and Abyssinian hospitality began. In this part of the country our surgeon was Grain, chopped straw, thin cakes of unleavened kept busy with many operations. He had just bread, jars of honey, and horns of tedge, with extracted a stone bullet which had been in a two or three beeves and some black sheep, were man's foot for two years. The patient showed the gifts for the day. The next morning we un- his gratitude by bringing in some cakes and packed our presents for Alula and his lieuten- honey. With the exception of a few cow-doctors ant, Gabru. To the great chief we presented and herbalists, these poor people are without shot-guns, rifles, ammunition, and accoutre- medical aid. Disease is rampant everywhere, ments, some pieces of silk, a carpet, and a Turk- consumption prevailing; scrofula and other ish ewer and basin, in brass — the latter not a loathsome complaints come next. Seven out of reflection on his lack of ablution, for he was the every ten persons have some kind of disease that cleanest native we had yet met. Gabru received shows itself in sores and eruptions. No doubt a rifle, a carpet, and some whisky—the last- their excessive dislike for water is one of the mentioned gift being more in accord with his principal causes. The fashions of the women's taste than the ewer and basin, for we had our headgear are various, and do not differ much suspicions that he would have made a shield of the basin, and a jar for alcoholic drink of the ewer.
At sunrise on the third day of our advent into Abyssinia, we began our journey across the great table-land to Adowa, escorted by Alula with his whole army. The infantry in irregular masses ran on in advance; the cavalry in rough formations moved in our rear. As we journeyed at a quick walking-pace, the stream of footsoldiers in our front was augmented by stragglers who had been billeted in the adjacent villages. At a nod from Ras Alula, who rode on the right hand of the envoys, the cavalry would send forth warriors galloping from each flank to do mimic battle with one another for our amusement, showing their dexterity Za Kilis with lance or saber, each man seemingly fighting desperately, trying to gain a smile of approbation from his chief. The nearer we approached Addi Techlai, from the mode of the men. The hair is worn Alula's permanent camp, the warmer grew the short and curly, or in thin plaits taken from the mimic fight; the warriors being stimulated forehead back over the cranium in corduroy by the sight of their women watching their fashion to the nape of the neck, where it narprowess from the heights. A few hot-headed rows and is fixed up in a knot. Young girls will youths used their swords in earnest, and blood shave their scalps close, leaving a halo of fringe, began to flow; but a signal from the Ras stop- perhaps terminating in loose streamers behind. ped further mischief, and, the rough sport com- This fashion is indeed very pretty, especially ing to an end, the horsemen rejoined in our when framing handsome faces, which are by rear. Suddenly, without any perceptible orders, no means uncommon in Abyssinia. Drapery the cavalry broke into a gallop, and in a cloud thrown about their well-shaped figures (worn
ENGRAVED BY J. NAYLOR.