MR. AND MRS. BAKER were now in the eastern part of that
large desert region in Northern Africa which goes by the name
of the Soudan, This immense tract has lately been brought
into prominence by the wonderful exploits and extraordinary
'heroism of General Gordon " Chinese " Gordon, as he was called by
reason of achievements in China, which have given him remarkable fame.
He was a bold, strong character, a man of uncommon nerve and endur-
?ance, one who took a high moral view of the work in which he was
engaged, whose conscientiousness could not be doubted, whose tact and
perseverance were conspicuous a man who was a kind of religious hero,
raised up for a certain great work, and who fell before it was fully accom-
plished. His name will go down to all generations. He was a silent
man, very much wrapped up within himself, somewhat stern in his dispo-
sition, whose nature was apparently made of Damascus steel, and who,
although possessed of gentle qualities and much beloved by those who
inew him best, was yet a man to be dreaded when not obeyed.
"Chinese " Gordon was not an explorer. He did not partake of the
character of Stanley, Baker, Livingstone, and others. Yet he succeeded
in gaining a very strong hold upon the sympathies and the admiration of
not only the English people, but of all civilized nations. He was a man
to awaken enthusiasm and admiration, and the heroic sacrifice which he
finally made of himself places a fitting climax upon his marvellous career.
It is true that geographical discovery has had its great heroes ; it is also
true that the attempts of European nations to carry their commerce, their
arms, their modes of government, into the benighted Continent of Africa,
have had heroes none the less brilliant.
It will be interesting to the reader to continue the journey through the
wilds of Abyssinia which lie upon the borders of the Soudan; in fact, the
Soudan may be said to include this vast region, which in itself is a Trop-
We have already seen that Mr. and Mrs. Baker crossed the Nubian
desert. This in itself was a formidable undertaking, for the dreary desert
is the greatest obstacle to exploration southward into the region of Cen-
This dreary tract we must cross, otherwise we can have no adequate
idea of the hardships of the explorer's life, the difficulties and discour-
agements he meets with at the very outset, and the surprising contrast
between his experiences in the earlier and in the later stages of his
progress. His voyage up the Nile, under the ever clear and brilliant
sky of Egypt, past the silent shapes of the temples, the sphinxes, the
pyramids, and other gigantic monuments of a great past, and surrounded
by the sights and sounds of Oriental life, has been a holiday trip to the.
traveller bound lakewards.
Hardships of a Long Camel Ride.
When he places his foot on the desert sand, and transfers his guns, his-
tent, and other appurtenances of travel from the river-boat to the back of
the " ship of the desert " which is to convey him across the Great Bend
of the Nile from Korosko to Abu Hammed, the stern reality of his task
begins. The first day's sun, reflected with overpowering force from the-
fantastic cliffs and flinty sand of the Korosko Desert, probably burns out
of him any romance that he may have entertained in connection with
Nubian travel ; before the nearest halting-place is reached, the early
delightful sense of the novelty of riding on camel-back has given place
to a hearty detestation of the uneasy motion, the slow progress, and the
abominable temper of that overlauded brute.
Dr. Nachtigal, the celebrated African explorer, was once the guest of a.
rich Hamburg merchant. The merchant's son, a young man of a some-
what sentimental temperament, said, among other things, that his dearest
wish was to ride across the desert on the back of a camel. He thought
such a ride must be very poetic indeed. " My dear young friend,"
replied the explorer, " I can tell you how you can get a partial idea of
what riding a camel on the deserts of Africa is like. Take an office
stool, screw it up as high as possible, and put it in a wagon without any
springs, then seat yourself on the stool, and have it drawn over rocky
and uneven ground, during the hottest weather of July or August, after
you have not had anything to eat or drink for twenty-four hours, and
then you will get a faint idea of how delightfully poetic it is to ride on a
camel in the wilds of Africa."
Travelling Through a Furnace.
Soon you are glad to abandon travel in the full blaze of day, with its
blistering glare from rock and sand, the pitiless sun overhead, and the
furnace-like breath of the desert air, and you march at night, when the
earth is growing cool again, under the great stars. Here and there, as
you descend into the bed of a " wady," or dry-water course, the eye is
relieved for an instant by a patch of green verdure, a frightened gazelle
dashes away to the shelter of the nearest sand-hills, or a glimpse is
caught of a naked Arab youth tending his flock of goats ; for even the
desert is not entirely void of plant and animal life, though every livings
thing seems to partake of the arid nature and to bear the dusty colors of
the surrounding waste. Even rain is not altogether unknown, and it is
looked for at least once every winter season, although sometimes four
years will pass without a fall.
At these times the clouds that have drifted up from the distant Indian
Ocean may be seen pitching their black tents about the summits of the
mountain ridges that divide the Nile Valley from the Red Sea. The
nomad Arab tribes, the only inhabitants of these thirsty hills, watch them
with breathless hope. A north wind may blow during the night and
drift them back whence they came. More likely they burst in thunder-
storm the whole of the storms of a season compressed into one furious
onslaught of lightning and rain. The dry water-courses of yesterday
are roaring torrents by morning, bearing down to the Nile a tribute of
water for one day in the year at least.
For one day also, or perhaps for some weeks, the earth and air are
swept of their impurities, and the face of the desert begins to look fresh
and verdant, as grass and plants spring up rapidly on every hand ; but
then again the drought and the heat return, and nature withers more
rapidly than it sprang to life. There are spots, however, well known to
the Arab shepherd and camel-driver, where there are running water and
green turf all the year round, or where, sheltered perhaps by the naked
rocks of some deep ravine, a little oasis of palm and tamarisk trees is to
be found. These are the halting-places on the march the stepping-
stones by means of which alone this howling wilderness may be crossed.
Sometimes the wells fail, or are poisoned, or a predatory band occupies
the springs; and then the unfortunate traveller has to face the peril of
death from thirst or exhaustion as the fainting caravan is hurried forward
to the next halting-place. In any case he is fervently thankful when the
shining waters of the Nile come again into sight at Abu Hammed, and
this doleful stage of his desert wandering is at a close.
Baker's Description of a Camel Ride.
Our hero gives an interesting and withal humorous account of the
experiences of himself and wife voyaging on the " ships of the desert."
He says : When a sharp cut from the stick of the guide induces the
camel to break into a trot, the torture of the rack is a pleasant tickling
compared to the sensation of having your spine driven by a sledge-ham-
mer from below, half a foot deeper into the skull. The human frame may
be inured to almost anything ; thus the Arabs, who have always been
accustomed to this kind of exercise, hardly feel the motion, and the por-
tion of the body most subject to pain in riding a rough camel upon two
bare pieces of wood for a saddle, becomes naturally adapted for such
rough service, as monkeys become hardened from constantly sitting upon
The children commence almost as soon as they are born, as they must
accompany their mothers in their annual migrations; and no sooner can
the young Arab sit astride and hold on, than he is placed behind his
father's saddle, to which he clings, while he bumps upon the bare back of
the jolting camel. Nature quickly arranges a horny protection to the
nerves by the thickening of the skin; therefore an Arab's opinion of the
action of a riding camel should never be accepted without a personal
trial. What appears delightful to him may be torture to you, as a strong
breeze and a rough sea may be charming to a sailor, but worse than
death to a landsman.
Warranted to Ride Easy.
I was determined not to accept the camels now offered until I had seen
them tried ; I accordingly ordered our black soldier. El Baggar, to saddle
the most easy-actioned animal for my wife ; but I wished to see him put
it through a variety of paces before she should accept it. The delighted
El Baggar, who from long practice was as hard as the heel of a boot,
disdained a saddle ; the animal knelt, was mounted, and off he started at
full trot, performing a circle of about fifty yards diameter, as though in a
circus. I never saw such an exhibition ! " Warranted quiet to ride, of
easy action, and fit for a lady !" This had been the character received
with the rampant brute, which now, with head and tail erect, went tearing
round the circle, screaming and roaring like a wild beast, throwing his
forelegs forward, and stepping at least three feet high in his trot. Where
was El Baggar ?
A disjointed-looking black figure was sometimes on the back of this
easy-going camel, sometimes a foot high in the air : arms, head, legs,
hands appeared like a confused mass of dislocations ; the woolly hair of
this unearthly individual, that had been carefully trained in long, stiff,
narrow curls, precisely similar to the tobacco known as " negro-head,"
alternately started upright en masse as though under the influence of
electricity, and then fell as suddenly upon his shoulders; had the dark
individual been a " black dose," he or it could not have been more
This object, so thoroughly disguised by rapidity of movement, was El
Baggar; happy, delighted El Baggar! As he came rapidly round
towards us, flourishing his stick, I called to him, " Is that a nice drome-
dary for the Sit (lady). El Baggar? Is it very easy?" He was almost
incapable of a reply. " V-e-r-y e-e-a-a-s-y," replied the trustworthy
authority, "j-j-j-just the thin-n-n-n-g for the S-i-i-i-t-t-t." "All right,
that will do," I answered, and the jockey pulled up his steed. "Are the
other camels better or worse than that ? " I asked. " Much worse,"
replied El Baggar ; " the others are rather tough, but this is an easy-goer,
and will suit the lady well."
An Extraordinary Freak of Nature.
It was impossible to hire a good dromedary; an Arab prizes his
riding animal too much, and invariably refuses to let it to a stranger, but
generally imposes upon him by substituting some lightly-built camel,
that he thinks will pass muster ; I accordingly chose for my wife a steady-
going animal from among the baggage-camels, trusting to be able to
obtain a better one from the great sheikh, Abou Sinn, who was encamped
upon the road we were about to take along the valley of the Atbara.
Upon arriving at the highest point of the valley, we found ourselves
upon the vast table-land that stretches from the Atbara to the Nile. At
this season the entire surface had a faint tint of green, as the young shoots
of grass had replied to the late showers of rain ; so perfect a level was
this great tract of fertile country, that within a mile of the valley of the
Atbara there was neither furrow nor water-course, but the escape of the
rainfall was by simple soakage. As usual, the land was dotted with,
mimosas, all of which were now bursting into leaf
The thorns of the different varieties of these trees are an extraordinary
freak of Nature, as she appears to have exhausted all her art in producing-
an apparently useless arrangement of defence. The mimosas that are
most common in the Soudan provinces are mere bushes, seldom exceeding
sixteen feet in height; these spread out toward the top like mushrooms,
but the branches commence within two feet of the ground ; they are
armed with thorns in the shape of fish-hooks, which they resemble in.
sharpness and strength. A thick jungle composed of such bushes is per-
fectly impenetrable to any animals but elephants, rhinoceroses and buf-
faloes, and should the clothes of a man become entangled in such thorns,
either they must give way or he must remain a prisoner. The mimosa
that is known among the Arabs as the kittar, is one of the worst species, and
is probably similar to that which caught Absalom by the hair ; this differs-
from the well-known " wait-a-bit " of South Africa, as no milder nickname-
could be applied than " dead-stop." Were the clothes of strong mate-
rial, it would be impossible to break through a kittar-bush.
Camel Plunging Into Thorn Bushes.
A magnificent specimen of a kittar, with a wide-spreading head in the-
young glory of green leaf, tempted my hungry camel during our march ;
it was determined to procure a mouthful, and I was equally determined
that it should keep to the. straight path, and avoid the attraction of the
green food. After some strong remonstrance upon my part, the perverse
beast shook its ugly head, gave a roar, and started off in full trot straight
at the thorny bush. I had not the slightest control over the animal, and
in a few seconds it charged the bush, with the mad intention of rushing
either through or beneath it. To my disgust, I perceived that the wide-
spreading branches were only just sufficiently high to permit the back of
the camel to pass underneath.
There was no time for further consideration ; we charged the bush ; I
held my head doubled up between my arms, and the next moment I was
on my back, half stunned by the fall. The camel-saddle lay upon the
ground, my rifle, that had been slung behind, my coffee-pot, the burst
water-skin, and a host of other appurtenances, lay around me in all direc-
tions ; worst of all, my beautiful gold repeater lay at some distance from
me, rendered entirely useless. I was as nearly naked as I could be ; a
few rags held together, but my shirt was gone, with the exception of
some shreds that adhered to my arms. I was, of course, streaming with,
blood, and looked much more as though I had been clawed by a leopard
than as having simply charged a bush. The camel had fallen down with,
the shock, after I had been swept off by the thorny branches. To this,
day I have the marks of the scratching.
Unless a riding-camel is perfectly trained, it is the most tiresome-
animal to ride, after the first green leaves appear ; every bush tempts it
from the path, and it is a perpetual fight between the rider and his beast
throughout the journey. The Arab soldier who mounts his beast and
darts away over the desert of sand does not encounter the obstacles that
beset our path.
We shortly halted for the night, as I had noticed unmistakable signs-
of an approaching storm. We quickly pitched the tents, grubbed up the
root and stem of a decayed mimosa, and lighted a fire, by the side of
which our people sat in a circle. Hardly had the pile begun to blaze,
when a cry from Mahomet's new relative, Achmet, informed us that he
had been bitten by a scorpion. Mahomet appeared to think this highly
entertaining, until suddenly he screamed out likewise, and springing
from the ground, he began to stamp and wring his hands in great agony ;
he had himself been bitten, and we found that a whole nest of scorpions
were in the rotten wood lately thrown upon the fire : in their flight from
the heat they stung all whom they met.
There was no time to prepare food ; the thunder already roared above
us, and in a few minutes the sky, lately so clear, was as black as ink. I
had already prepared for the storm, and the baggage was piled within
the tent ; the ropes of the tents had been left slack to allow for the con-
traction, and we were ready for the rain. It was fortunate that Ave were
in order ; a rain descended with an accompaniment of thunder and light-
ning, of a volume unknown to the inhabitants of cooler climates; for sev-
eral hours there was almost an uninterrupted roar of the most deafening
peals, with lightning so vivid that our tent was completely lighted up in
the darkness of the night, and its misery displayed. Not only was the
rain pouring through the roof, so that we were wet through as we
crouched upon our angareps (stretchers), but the legs of our bedstead
stood in more than six inches of water.
Being as wet as I could be, I resolved to enjoy the scene outside the
tent; it was cyrious in the extreme. Flash after flash of sharp forked
lightning played upon the surface of a boundless lake ; there was not a
foot of land visible, but the numerous dark bushes, projecting from the
surface of the water, destroyed the illusion of depth that the scene would
otherwise have suggested. The rain ceased ; but the entire country was
flooded several inches deep, and when the more distant lightning flashed,
as the storm rolled away, I saw the camels lying like statues built into
the lake. On the following morning the whole of this great mass of
water had been absorbed by the soil, which had become so adhesive and
slippery that it was impossible for the camels to move ; we therefore
waited for some hours, until the intense heat of the sun had dried the sur-
face sufficiently to allow the animals to proceed.
A Regiment of Scorpions.
Upon striking the tent, we found beneath the volance, between the
crown and the walls, a regiment of scorpions ; the flood had doubtless
destroyed great numbers within their holes, but these, having been dis-
turbed by the deluge, had found an asylum by crawling up the tent
walls : with great difficulty we lighted a fire, and committed them all to
the flames. Mahomet made a great fuss about his hand, which was cer-
tainly much swollen, but not worse than that of Achmet, who did not
complain, although during the night he had been again bitten on the leg
by one of these venomous insects, that had crawled from the water upon
Our last chapter left Mr. and Mrs. Baker at Khartoum. As the gov-
ernment of Soudan refused to supply Baker with properly-trained soldiers,
the only men he could get for an escort were the barbarous ruffians of
Khartoum, who had been accustomed all their lives to plunder in the
White Nile trade; yet, such as they were, he was compelled to put up
with them, though he would undoubtedly have done better had he gone
without such an escort. The voyage alone to Gondokoro, the navigable
limit of the Nile, was likely to occupy about fifty days, so that a large
supply of provisions was necessary.
Says Baker : To organize an enterprise so difficult that it had hitherto
defeated the whole world required a careful selection of attendants, and I
looked with despair at the prospect before me. The only men procurable
for escort were the miserable cut-throats of Khartoum, accustomed to
Tnurder and pillage in the White Nile trade, and excited not by the love
of adventure but by the desire for plunder : to start with such men
appeared mere insanity. An exploration to the Nile sources was a march
through an enemy's country, and required a powerful force of well-armed
men. For the traders there was no great difficulty, as they took the
initiative in hositilities and had fixed camps as supply stations, but for
an explorer there was no alternative but a direct forward march without
any communications with the rear.
The preparations for such a voyage are no trifles. I required forty-five
armed men as escort, forty men as sailors, which, with servants, etc.,
raised my party to ninety-six. In the hope of meeting Speke and Grant's
party, I loaded the boats with an extra quantity of corn.
The Carpenter Joliann.
In all the detail, I was much assisted by a most excellent man whom
I had engaged to accompany me as my head-man, a German carpenter,
Johann Schmidt, I had formerly met him hunting on the banks of the
Settite river, in the Base country, where he was purchasing living ani-
mals from the Arabs, for a contractor to a menagerie in Europe ; he was
an excellent sportsman, and an energetic and courageous fellow; per-
fectly sober and honest, Alas 1 " the spirit was willing, but the flesh
was weak," and a hollow cough, and emaciation, attended with hurried
respiration, suggested disease of the lungs.
Day after day he faded gradually, and I endeavored to persuade him
not to venture upon such a perilous journey as that before me : nothing
would persuade him that he was in danger, and he had an idea that the
climate of Khartoum was more injurious than the White Nile, and that
the voyage would improve his health. Full of good feeling, and a wish
to please, he persisted in working and perfecting the various arrange-
ments, when he should have been saving his strength for a severer
Soon afterward the German carpenter breathed his last. Baker gives
an affecting account of his last moments : Johann is in a dying state, but
sensible ; all his hopes, poor fellow, of saving money in my service and
returning to Bavaria are past. I sat by his bed for some hours ; there
was not a ray of hope ; he could speak with difficulty, and the flies
walked across his glazed eyeballs without his knowledge. Gently bath-
ing his face and hands, I asked him if I could deliver any message to his
relatives. He faintly uttered, " I am prepared to die ; I have neither
parents nor relations ; but there is one she " he faltered. He could not
,finish his sentence, but his dying thoughts were with one he loved ; far,
far away froqi this wild and miserable land, his spirit was transported to
his native village, and to the object that made life dear to him. Did not
a shudder pass over her, a chill warning at that sad moment when all
was passing away ? I pressed his cold hand, and asked her name^
Gathering ]:iis remaining strength he murmured, " Krombach." Krom-
bach was merely the name of his native village in Bavaria.
" Es bleibt nur zu sterben." " Ich bin sehr dankbar.'' These were the
last words he spoke, " I am very grateful." I gazd^ sorrowfully at his-
attenuated figure, and at the now powerless hand that had laid low many
an elephant and lion, in its day of strength ; and the cold sweat of death
lay thick upon his forehead. Although the pulse was not yet still, Johann was gone.
I made a huge cross with my own hands from the trunk of a taniarind
tree, and by moonlight we laid him in his grave in this lonely spot.
"No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
Nor in sheet nor in shroud we wound him ;
But he lay like a pilgrim taking his rest,
With his mantle drawn around him."
This is a mournful commencement of the voyage. Poor fellow, I did all
I could for him although that was but little ; and hands far more tender
than mine ministered to his last necessities.
Celebrated Tribe of Blacks.
Soon the expedition was saihng past the country inhabited by the
Shillooks, the largest and most powerful' black tribe on the banks of the
White Nile. They are very wealthy, and possess immense herds of cat-
tle ; are also agriculturists, fishermen, and warriors. Their huts are
regularly built, looking at a distance like rows of button mushrooms.
They embark boldly on the river in their raft-like canoes, formed of the
excessively light ambatch-wood. The tree is of no great thickness, and
tapers gradually to a point. It is thus easily cut down, and, several
trunks being lashed together, a canoe is quickly formed. A war party
on several occasions, embarking in a fleet of these rafts, have descended
the river, and made raids on other tribes, carrying off women and chil-
dren as captives, and large herds of cattle.
Nothing can be more melancholy and uninteresting than the general
appearance of the banks of the river. At times vast marshes alone could
be seen, at others an immense expanse of sandy desert, with huge ant-
hills ten feet high rising above them.
While stopping at a village on the right bank, Baker received a visit
from the chief of the Nuehr tribe and a number of his followers.
Contrary to the usual custom, this tribe possesses land on both sides
of the Nile, which in the midst of their territory spreads itself into a lake.
The Nuehr are a fine-looking race of savages, and very like savages they
look. The men are tall, powerful, and well-formed, but their features
approach the negro type, and are heavier and coarser than those of the
tribes which have been previously mentioned. The women are not
nearly so good-looking as the men, and are rather clumsily built.
Very Cheap Style of Dress.
Neither sex is much troubled with clothes. The males never wear any
clothes at all ; nor do the females, until they are married, when they tie
a fringe -of grass round their waists, some of the wealthier women being
able to use a leathern fringe, of which they are very proud. Their orna-
ments really seem to serve no other purpose but to disfigure the wearers
as much as possible. Beginning with the head, the men stain their
woolly hair of a dusty red by a mixture of which ashes form the chief
part. They then take a sort of pipe-clay, and plaster it thickly into the
hair at the back part of the head, dressing it up and shaping it until it is
formed into a cone, the shape of the ornament varying according to the
caprice of the individual. By means of this clay head-dress the hair is
thrown back from the face, the expression of which is not improved by
the horizontal lines that are tattooed across it.
The natural glossy black of the skin, which has so pleasing an appear-
ance, is utterly destroyed by a coating of wood ashes, which gives to the
surface a kind of grayish look. On the upper arm they generally wear
a large armlet of ivory, and have heavy coils of beads round their necks.
The wrists are adorned with rings ©f copper and other ornaments, and on
the right wrist they carry an iron ring armed with projecting blades, very
similar to that which is worn by the Latookas.
Joctian, the chief of the Nuehr tribe, was asked by Baker what was the
use of this weapon, and by way of answer he simply pointed to his wife's
arms and back, which were covered with scars produced by this primi-
tive wife-tamer. He seemed quite proud of these marks, and evidently
considered them merely as ocular proofs that his wife was properly sub-
servient to her liusband. ,In common with the rest of his tribe, he had a
small bag slung round his neck by way of a pocket, which held bits of
wood, beads, and all kinds of trifles. He asked for everything he saw,
and, when anything of small size was given him, it straightway went into
Traits of the Nuehr Tribe.
Still, putting aside these two traits of cruelty and covetousness, Joctian
seems to have been a tolerably agreeable savage, and went away delighted
with the presents he had received, instead of grumbling that he could
not get more, as is the usual way among savage chiefs. It was rather
strange that, although he was so charmed with beads and bracelets, he
declined to accept a knife, saying that it was useless to him. He had in
his hands a huge pipe, holding nearly a quarter of a pound of tobacco.
Every Nuehr man has one of these pipes, which he always carries with
him, and, should his supply of tobacco be exhausted, he lights a piece of
charcoal, puts it into his pipe, and inhales the vapor that it draws from
the tobacco-saturated bowl.
The women are not so much adorned as the men, probably because
the stronger sex prefer to use the ornaments themselves. At a little dis-
tance the women all look as if they were smoking cigarettes. This odd
appearance is caused by a strange ornament which they wear in their
upper lip. They take a piece of iron wire, about four inches in length,
and cover it with small beads. A hole is then pierced in the upper lip,
and the ornament inserted, so as to project forward and rather upward.
The Nuehr are very fond of beads, and are glad to exchange articles
of food for them. One kind of bead, about the size and shape of a pig-
eon's egg, is greatly valued by them ; and, when Mr. Petherick was
travelling through their country, he purchased an ox for eight such
beads. The chief came on board the boat, and, as usual, asked for
everything he saw.
Ludicrous Attempt to Get Into Slices.
Among other odd things he set his affections on Mr. Petherick's shoes,
which, as they were nearly Avorn out, were presented to him. Of course
they were much too small for him, and the attempts which he made to
put them on were very amusing. After many failures, he determined on
taking them home, where he thought he might be able to get them on
by greasing his feet well.
When the chief entered the cabin, and saw the Avonders of civilized
life, he was quite overcome with the novel grandeur, and proceeded, to
kneel on one knee, in order to give the salutation due to a great chief
"Grasping my right hand, and turning up the palm, he quietly spat into
it, and then, looking into my face, he deliberately repeated the process.
Staggered at the man's audacity, my first impulse was to knock him
down, but, his features expressing kindness only, I vented my rage by
returning the compliment with all possible interest. His delight seemed
excessive, and, resuming his seat, he expressed his conviction that I must
be a great chief Similar salutes followed with each of his attendants, and
friendship was established." This strange salutation extends through
many of the tribes that surround the Nuehr.
Sailing on day after day, with marshes and dead flats alone in sight,
mosquitoes preventing rest even in the day, Baker and his party at
length arrived at the station of a White Nile trader, where large herds of
cattle were seen on the banks.
Visit From a Chief and His Daughter.
They were here visited by the chief of the Kytch tribe and his daughter, a
girl of about sixteen, better looking than most of her race. The father wore
a leopard-skin across his shoulder, and a skull-cap of white beads, with a
crest of white ostrich feathers. But this mantle was the only garment
he had on. His daughter's clothing consisted only of a piece of dressed
hide hanging over one shoulder, more for ornament than use, as the rest
of her body was entirely destitute of covering. The men, though tall,
were wretchedly thin, and the children mere skeletons.
While the travellers remained here, they were beset by starving crowds,
bringing small gourd shells to receive the expected corn. The natives,
indeed, seem to trust entirely to the productions of nature for their sub-
sistence, and are the most pitiable set of savages that can be imagined,
their long thin legs and arms giving them a peculiar gnat-like appearance.
They devour both the skin and bones of dead animals. The bones are
pounded between stones, and, when reduced to powder, boiled to form a
kind of porridge.
It is remarkable that in every herd they have a sacred bull, who is
supposed to have an influence over the prosperity of the rest. His horns
are ornamented with tufts of feathers, and frequently with small bells,
and he invariably leads the great herd to pasture.
A short visit was paid to the Austrian mission stationed at St. Croix,
which has proved a perfect failure indeed, that very morning it was sold
to an Egytian for I50. It was here the unfortunate Baron Harnier, a
Prussian nobleman, was killed by a buffalo which he had attacked in the
hopes of saving the life of a native whom the buffalo had struck down.
Termination of the Voyage.
The voyage terminated at Gondokoro on the 2d of February. The
country is a great improvement to the interminable marshes at the lower
part of the river, being raised about twenty feet above the water, while
distant mountains relieve the eye, and evergreen trees, scattered in all
directions, shading the native villages, form an inviting landscape. A
few miserable grass huts alone, however, form the town, if it deserves
A large number of men belonging to the various traders were assem-
bled here, who looked upon the travellers with anything but friendly
eyes. As Mr. Baker heard that a party were expected at Gondokoro
from the interior with ivory in a few days, he determined to await their
arrival, in hopes that their porters would be ready to carry his baggage.
In the meantime he rode about the neighborhood, studying the place and
The native dwellings are the perfection of cleanliness. The domicile
of each family is surrounded by a hedge of euphorbia, and the interior of
the enclosure generally consists of a yard neatly plastered. Upon this
cleanly-swept surface are one or more huts, surrounded by granaries of
neat wicker-work, thatched, and resting upon raised platforms. The
huts have projecting roofs, in order to afford a shade, and the entrance is
usually about two feet high.
The natives are of the Bari tribe. They are a warlike and dangerous
tribe, being well armed and capable of using their weapons, so that a
traveller who wishes to pass safely through their land must be able to
show an armed front. When Captains Speke and Grant passed through
their country, an umbrella was accidentally left behind, and some of the
:men sent to fetch it. The Bari, however, drew up in battle array, evi-
denty knowing that without their leaders the men might be safely
bullied, so that the umbrella was left to the mercies of the Bari chief.
Owing to their position on the Nile, they do a great business in the
slave trade, for as far as Gondokoro, the capital of the Bari country,
steamers have been able to ascend the river. Consequently, every party
of strangers is supposed and mostly with truth to be a slaving expe-
dition, and is dreaded by one part of the population, while it is courted
by the other. The quarrelsome disposition of the Bari has often brought
them into collision with the traders, and, as might be imagined, the
superior arms and discipline of the latter have given them such a superi-
ority, that the Bari are not as troublesome as they used to be. Still, they
are always on the watch for an opportunity of extortion, and, if a traveller
even sits under a tree, they will demand payment for its shade.
Unpleasant as these Bari are in their ordinary state, they can be trained
into good and faithful attendants, and are excellent material for soldiers.
On one occasion, when a large party had attacked a body of traders,
killed the standard-bearer, and nearly carried off the standard itself, a
young Bari boy came to the rescue, shot with his pistol the man who
was carrying off the standard, snatched it from him, and took it safely to
CONTINUED IN CHAPTER XXI.
IN A WILD COUNTRY.
INTRODUCTION :: CONTENTS
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