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when their gowns are in rags) makes them ab- The men are partial to cartridges, and some solutely statuesque, and these damsels would had a vague idea of their value, offering an be attractive but for the nasal as well as the egg apiece for them. optical knowledge of their uncleanliness. An One morning we passed a caravan of Ethiopian will tell you without a blush that he ivory; the tusks were bound with rawhide is necessarily washed at birth, cleans himself and strapped across the backs of mules, who on his marriage morn, and hopes to be washed staggered under their precious loads toward
after death ; that once every year he dips him- Asmara, en route for the market of Massowah. self in the river on the festival of St. John the On arriving on the edge of the plateau, a Baptist, and regularly every morning he wets scene of great beauty presented itself. Our the end of his toga with the moisture from his route lay down a wide gorge, opening on an mouth and freshens up his eyes. Whenever ocean of little blue hills, looking with their he feels his hide harsh and uncomfortable, he purple hues like the wavelets of the Atlantic anoints himself with mutton fat. Of a morning suddenly arrested in motion. Descending the one may see the jeunesse dorée of a town stalk- precipitous sides of the plateau, a crowd of ing with body erect, and with about a pound of monkeys of all sizes and ages scampered away butter stuck on their heads, gradually melting in great dismay, chattering and shrieking as under the increasing power of the sun. Themen some of our sportsmen fired in the air. The may look a shade cleaner occasionally, caused valley of Gundet, which we were now traversnot by any act of their own, but through the ing, became famous by the utter rout of the accident of being for hours in a rain-storm, Egyptians in their fight with the Abyssinians which at this season occurs daily; but even then in November, 1876. Here the main body of the odor of rancid mutton fat impregnates the the invaders, under the gallant young Dane, atmosphere wherever they may be.
Colonel Arendrup Bey, was cut to pieces. FurIn passing through the town of Godafallassi, ther on, toward the Mareb River, the vanguard a place of 350 houses, and boasting a market, under Count Zichy left their bones to rot in we had some hopes of finding the inhabitants a forest of mimosa. As we passed this scene, in better circumstances and condition. They their bleached remnants still lay scattered there, were in even a worse state than the people of the marking the spot where a rallying square bad villages we had passed through. They herded stood to stem the torrent of Abyssinian speartogether in their huts with their cattle, fowls, men, who suddenly rushed down upon them dogs, cats, and a Noah's ark of insects, which from their rocky cover of enormous granite they seem to foster with the greatest care, by boulders that hemmed in the defile. Remainnot touching soap and using very little water. ing a little in the rear of our party, one of our They were more or less civil, but show no par- native guard described to me the manner of ticular courtesy to strangers. They preferred the attack: how the Ethiopians crept from cloth or gaudily colored handkerchiefs to their cover on hands and knees; the surprise money for the coarse food they brought us. of the enemy; the short struggle and sub
sequent flight of the Egyptians, and their utterliage, and here and there on their slopes were annihilation. The natives acknowledge to this clearings with patches of cultivated ground. day that Arendrup's troops fought dearly for Always ascending, we at last reached the great their lives. In those days the Egyptians had Dari Teelai plain, one day's march from some mettle in them. The battle of Gundet is Adowa, our objective point. After traversing memorable, as it was the beginning of the de- a sandy track for six hours, we encamped, but cay of Egyptian power in Ethiopia and the spent the last night of our long march in sleepSoudan. Disorder and misfortune have over- lessness, on account of the cries of hyenas and whelmed them ever since, and the Turk, who jackals, and were made miserable by the visitawas once regarded with fear and respect, is tions of spiders and scorpions, two of the party now looked upon in that part of the world with being severely bitten. In the early dawn we loathing and contempt. In the valley of Gun- marched for the capital of northern Abyssinia. det the foliage varies from the monotony of This last day's journey was considered by some the prickly mimosa to sycamore, butternut, of us the most difficult and trying of all. A magand wild fig of many kinds, and on the banks nificent view of the valleys and hills we had of the Mareb weeping willows overhang its passed over in the last six days lay before us. rocky bed.
A more picturesque but wild, inhospitable, and Leaving this historical valley, we once more rugged-looking country one could hardly im ascended hill after hill covered with dense fo- agine. In the far distance, forming the 1
zon, in a long level line lay the top of the merous villages, in such odd places and close Hamasen plateau. At the base of its precipi- proximity as to suggest the probability of their tous sides stretched the valley of Gundet. once being part and parcel of the city itself. Then a sea of hills piled up until they sloped The pillage, massacre, and incendiarism of into the plains of the Dari Teelai, the end of hostile or rebellious tribes, which on an averwhich was shut in by the numerous heights age take place every ten years, have doubtless over which we had just toiled. On right and left these remnants of happier days quite isoleft of the plateau, the valley, and the plains, lated, giving the Abyssinian capital a most poor
rugged mountains reared themselves in vol- and disjointed appearance for a representative canic confusion, their shapes so eccentric that city. As soon as we crossed the Mareb we they seemed to mingle with the thunder-clouds found that the peasantry treated our advent that were beginning to discharge their waters with great indifference, and were very reluctant, in a distant valley. Reluctantly turning our in spite of excellent pay, to bring in supplies backs on this grand and impressive scene, we to our camp. This was owing, we discovered, descended into the valley of Adowa. On one to our arrival in the district belonging to the of the slopes far away to our left, from out the King's son — our powerful protector, Ras gray monotony of surrounding habitations, Alula, having no control out of his own counshone the golden Coptic cross on the hay- try, though he was one of the most powerful thatched cathedral of the city of Adowa. of the Abyssinian chiefs, and the warden of
The capital of Tigré, or northern Abyssinia, the marches. The country is split up into petty appears to have been once a city of much chieftainships, the ruler of each district receivgreater importance than it is at the present day. ing all revenues from whatever sources, and It consists of 800 or 900 habitations, covering having complete power of life and death over the spurs of three hills on the southeast end his people. His only obligation to the King is of the valley, around which are scattered nu- to follow him to war with all his available fight
ing-men. Next to the King, Alula had the out any apparent shame, and if the amount of largest following, so Johannes had a whole- the gift did not come up to his expectations, some respect for him, for his weight thrown in he would politely say, “I require nothing but with any one of the pretenders to the throne your friendship,” which meant that he would would be a serious matter for the reigning be as unfriendly as possible until the required house. The young heir apparent, jealous of sum was forthcoming. The King might have the power of this great chief, resented it by put a stop to it at once, for no monarch is more showing to us that he alone had control in his absolute or despotic in the world. His word, own-district, and made us suffer by withhold- proclaimed in the market-place with a prelude ing the necessary supplies. So far was this of tom-toms, is the only law, and he has absojealousy carried, that on our arrival in Adowa lute power of death and mutilation. Political the governor of the city delayed calling upon offenders and obstructionists are arrested, us, and when he condescended to do so was so chained, and placed on the small table-land drunk and stupid that he had to be supported of Abba Salama, a high, rocky, and precipitous by his interpreter on the road home. He for- mountain about thirty miles from Adowa. So bade his people to bring us any supplies. This sheer and steep are its sides that the prisoners was, indeed, a very serious thing, for travelers are drawn up by ropes. Their chance of esin Abyssinia are dependent in this matter upon caping is impossible, unless they run the risk the pleasure of the governor or chiefs. `In of dashing themselves into eternity on the rocks Adowa there are no shops or hostelries of any below. On this lonely height there is soil on description, the people getting their provisions which they may grow grain, and there are from the market held once a week. Tedge and wells with good water. There is no speaker beer are brewed, corn is converted into flour, to keep order, and they may, if they choose, and all cooking prepared in each household abuse the prime ministers and crowned heads Therefore, unless people are allowed to sell or to their hearts' content, but they return no give hospitality, the traveler's chance of escape more to the ways of the world. from starvation is a small one. We had sup- The King of the Ethiopians, although absoplies of a certain kind with us, and could have lute in power, and doing pretty much as he held out a few days, but such food would have pleases, has an ear for the Church, and superbeen rejected by our native followers, who stitiously follows the fiats of the high priests. would have suffered great privations. Sir Wil- Within a stone's-throw of Adowa is a village liam Hewitt was compelled, therefore, to for- called the Abuna's. It is here that the Archward a letter to the King, stating that unless bishop, or Abuna, resides. This ecclesiastical the prohibition of supplies was withdrawn, it dignitary is always a foreigner. The Abuna would be impossible for us to move farther. is simply a prisoner in the country, and, unless In a few days a reply was brought back by followed by his brother churchmen, he may not Alula, who had been summoned by the King, leave the precincts of his village, a jealous eye which showed the pride and arrogance of the being kept on all his movements. He has the Ethiopian Christian monarch. The translation sole power of consecrating churches, and of is as follows:
ordaining priests and deacons, and holds over Message of King John, by the Almighty King munication, which is looked upon by all with
the heads of the people the sentence of excomof Zion.
the greatest May it reach Sir William Hewitt, commanding
dread. By these means, in many ships of war in the East India Station. How do crooked ways, he can amass money, and pervou do? Thank God, I and my army are quite haps eventually return to his native monastery well. I am taking some baths. I send you Ras should the vigilance of his guards be slackened. Alula to assist you in counsel, provisions, and The Tchege comes next, and is the native head everything. As your Excellency is going to make of the church. He and the Abuna should lead friendship between two kingdoms, don't be in a
a life of rigid celibacy. The priests are allowed hurry to go back. I will come soon. Written this 24th day of Mengared, Camp life of gross immorality. The confessional af
to marry if they choose, but the majority lead a Dubba.
fords an easy means for gratifying their desires, With the exception of Ras Alula, who was and also for obtaining the liquor that cheers. a man of courteous manner and no mean abil. The Church in this country is almost as profitity, the chiefs and officers, though receiving able a profession as that of the soldier. There suitable presents, according to their rank, from is no regular pay attached to either, but the folour hands, would also try to obtain money from lowers of both live upon the people. There is no us under all kinds of pretenses, we knowing encouragement to ambition or advancement, perfectly well that a refusal meant petty delays for as soon as a man begins to grow rich, he and difficulties in supplies. Even a chief of is robbed spiritually by one and materially by very high standing would ask for dollars with the other.
We found the walls of the churches in Abys- some dollars from a pile in our paymaster's sinia covered with pictures of scriptural history, tent; the corner of the evil eye smiled innoand the walls of the cathedral with the exploits cently when detected, but the smile faded away of Johannes. His victories over the Egyptians under the influence of the paymaster's boot. at Gorra, and in the valley of Gundet, are On the return of Ras Alula from his visit to fully represented in tones as florid as those the King, we certainly fared a little better, and of advertising posters at home. The native our envoy was offered a house, with a artist does not make up for crudeness of color pound wherein to pitch his tents. We had by the accuracy of his drawing, and if these already settled down comfortably about a quarpictures have any merit it is in their originality ter of a mile from the city, in a southeasterly of treatment. For instance, in the cathedral direction. Our encampment numbered twenty of Gundet, in a picture representing the Israel- tents, and Mason Bey, with his equatorial exites crossing the Red Sea, Pharaoh carries in perience, erected several excellent grass huts, his right hand the latest specimen in six-shoot- so that we were in comparative comfort and ers, and in his left he holds a pair of opera- protected from the sun, the rays of which at glasses, while the Egyptian host sport Reming- this early period of the season were quite hot ton rifles. All movement of figures is from right enough. The huts brought the temperature to left, and in all pictures heads are full-faced, during the day down to 870, and kept it up with the exception of Satan and the hated to 470 of a night, for after sundown the therEgyptians, who are painted in acute profile, to mometer falls rapidly from 110° to 450 show their lack of honesty and good faith, and Rather interested to learn how far Abyssintheir inability to look you straight in the face. ian hospitality would go in the way of a house, It is a deplorable fact, and one which, ladies we rode into the town one afternoon to view will say at once, only proves the ignorance and the King's gift. After threading our way through barbarity of the Ethiopians, that the evil spirits several narrow streets, we arrived at the outer in these compositions are always represented wall of the mansion. Passing through the by the softer sex, generally showing their gateway, we crossed the compound, which had naughtiness by exhibiting their tongues. The the appearance of a scattered dunghill, and church painter goes so far as to question the reached a tall, quadrangular-shaped building, gallantry of St. George, the Abyssinian patron composed of thick walls of mud and stones, saint, by depicting that warrior, instead of do- with an extinguisher-shaped thatched roof. ing battle with the dragon, as spearing the Three doors, one on each face of three of the graceful, undulating form of a long-tongued walls, opened into a hall. Entering through woman.
the center, we discovered on each side of the The Abyssinian has a singular superstition gangway the head of a mule protruding from regarding eating in the open. To him a fit of two narrow stables let into the wall. The aniindigestion from over-feeding would mean the mals were so close that they rubbed their noses evil eye. He would feel assured that some on our coat-sleeves and sniffed our pockets for part of the performance of appeasing his ap- grain. In a recess fronting the entrance was petite had been observed. In walking along a a dais a few feet high, built of mud, covered highway in this country, I came across what with a carpet and some straw, with a dirty appeared to be a large bundle of washing curtain stretching across the recess and overjust a little off the road. On approaching it, hanging the dais. This is where the lord of the the movement going on within was plainly dis- house would place himself to receive visitors, cernible. Covered up in their shemas, or cloths, or to recline after a feast. There was also a nawere three men eating their midday meal. So tive bedstead, a low four-post affair, with strips much in fear are the people of the evil eye, that of rawhide stretching from side to side. This, they carry amulets containing prayers, and rolls with the exception of a stool, was the only other of parchment several yards long; and pictures article of furniture in the place. The floor was illustrative of the triumphs of the good spirit very much like that of an ill-kept stable, covered over that ocular absurdity are kept in their with muck and frowzy straw. Besides a woman houses for protection. If an Abyssinian sells and her little baby, both lately greased and frayou anything, and is well inclined, he will cau- grant in the extreme, there were a goat and a tion you to keep it indoors or covered up; for few fat-tailed sheep. From numerous holes and if an evil eye should fall on your purchase open cupboards in the walls fowls cackled it may spoil or disappear, which latter contin- and pigeons fluttered, disturbing the cobwebs, gency is much more probable in Abyssinia. I and spattering the occupants below with lime. had some experiences of the kind of evil eye Scattered here and there in corners were tedgethat caused goods and chattels to disappear. horns, broken honey-pots, and debris of all deIt gleamed for an instance in the head of an scriptions. The scene was indeed novel, but not Ethiopian whom I caught walking off with entertaining, for the stench of the animals, and