Sufferings In Africa

by James Riley

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Chapter VIII

The author and his crew are carried on camels into the interior of the Desart of Zahahrah—the Arabs hold a council—the crew are sold and distributed '•— the author's remarkable dream—the skin and flesh are literally roasted off from Ms body and from the bones of his companions—their dreadful sufferings while naked and wandering about the desart with their masters , subsisting only on a little camels milk—two Arab traders arrive.

The Arabs had been much amused in observing our difficulty in ascending the height, and kept up a laugh while they were whipping us forward. Their women and children were on foot as well as themselves, and went up without the smallest difficulty or inconvenience, though it was extremely hard for the camels to mount; and before they got to the top they were covered with sweat and froth, Having now selected five camels for the purpose, one for each of us, they put us on behind the humps, to which we were obliged to cling by grasping its long hair with both hands. The back bone of the one l was set on was only covered with skin, and as sharp as the edge of an oar’s blade ; his belly, distended with water, made him perfectly smooth, leaving no projection of the hips to keep me from sliding off behind, and his back or rump being as steep as the roof of a house, and so broad across as to keep my legs extended to their utmost stretch. I was in this manner slipping down to his tail every moment. I was forced however to keep on, while the camel, rendered extremely restive at the sight of his strange rider, was all the time running about among the drove, and making a most woful bellowing, and as they have neither bridle, halter, or any other thing whereby to guide or govern them, all I had to do was to Stick on as well as I could.

The Arabs, both men and women, were very anxious to know where we had been thrown on shore, whether to the eastward or westward; and being satisfied by me on that point, so soon as they had placed us on the camels, and given the women directions how to steer, they mounted each his camel, seated themselves on the small round saddle, and then crossing their legs on the animal’s shoulders, set off to the westward at a great trot, leaving us under the care of the women, some of whom were on foot, and urged the camels forward as fast as they could run. The heavy motions of the camel, not unlike that of a small vessel in a heavy head-beat sea, were so violent, aided by the sharp back bone, as soon to excoriate certain parts of my naked body; the inside of my thighs and legs were also dreadfully chafed, so that the blood dripped from my heels, while the intense heat of the sun had scorched and blistered our bodies and the outside of our legs, so that we were covered with . sores, and without any thing to administer relief. Thus bleeding and smarting under the most excruciating pain, we continued to advance in a S. E. direction on a plain flat hard surface of sand, gravel, and rock, f*overed with small sharp stones. It seemed as if our bones would be dislocated at every step. Hungry and thirsty, the night came on, and no indication of stopping; the cold night wind began to blow, chilling our blood, which ceased to trickle down our lacerated legs; but although it saved our blood, yet acting on our blistered skins, it increased our pains beyond description. We begged to be permitted to get off, but the women paid no attention to our distress nor entreaties, intent only on getting forward. We designedly slipped off the camels when going at a full trot, risking to break our necks by the fall, and tried to excite their compassion and get a drink of water, (which they call sherub) but they paid no attention to our prayers,and kept the camels running faster than before.

This was the first time I had attempted to walk barefooted since I was a schoolboy: we were obliged, to keep up with the camels, running over the stones, which were nearly as sharp as gun flints, and cutting our feet to the bone at every step. It was here that my fortitude and philosophy failed to support me; 1 cursed my fate aloud, and wished I had rushed into the sea before I gave myself up to these merciless beings in human forms—it was now too late. I would have put an immediate end to my existence, but had neither knife nor any other weapon with which to perform the deed. I searched for a stone, intending if I could find a loose one sufficiently large, to knock out my own brains with it; but searched in vain. This paroxysm passed off in a minute or two, when reason returned, and I recollected that my life was in the hand of the power that gave it, and that “ the Judge of all the earth would do right.” Then Tuning with all my remaining might, I soon came up with the camels, regardless of my feet and of pain, and felt perfectly resigned and willing to submit to the will of Providence and the fate that awaited me.

From that time forward, through all my succeeding trials and sufferings, I never once murmured in my heart, but at all times kept my spirits up, doing the utmost to obey and please those whom fortune, fate, or an overruling Providence had placed over me,and to persuade, both by precept and practice, my unhappy comrades to do the same. I bad, with my companions, cried aloud with pain, and begged our savage drivers for mercy, and when we had ceased to make a noise, fearing, as it were, to lose us in the dark, they stopped the camels, and again placing us on them as before, drove them on at full speed until about midnight, when we entered a small dell or valley, excavated by the hand of nature, a little below T the surface of the desart, about from fifteen to twenty feet deep. Here they stopped the camels, and made them lie down, bidding us to do the same. I judge we must have travelled forty miles this day to the S. E.: the place was hard and rocky, not even sand to'lie on, nor any covering to shelter us or keep off the cold damp wind that blew strong from the sea.

They soon set about milking, and then gave us each about a pint of pure milk, warm from the camels, taking great care to divide it for us ; it warmed our stomachs, quenched our thirst in some measure, and allayed in a small degree the cravings of hunger.

Mr. Savage had been separated from us, and I learned from him afterwards that he fgfed better than we did, having had a larger allowance of milk. Clark, Horace, and Dick the cook were still with me. We lay down on the ground as close to each other as we could, on the sharp stones, without any lee to fend off the wind from us; our bodies all over blistered and mangled, the stones piercing through the sore naked flesh to the ribs and other bones. These distresses, and our sad and desponding reflections, rendered this one of the longest and most dismal nights ever passed by any human beings. We kept shifting births, striving to keep off some of the cold during the night, while sleep, that had hitherto relieved our distresses and fatigues, fled from us in spite of all our efforts and solicitude to embrace it; nor were aa e able to close our eyes.

The morning of the 11th came on at last, and our industrious mistresses having milked a little from the camels, and allowed the young ones to suck, gave us about half a pint of milk among four of u: being just enough to wet our mouths, and then made us go forward on foot and drive the camels. The situation of our feet was horrible beyond description, and the very recollection of it, even at this moment, makes my nerves thrill and quiver. We proceeded forward, having gained the level desart for a considerable time, when entering a small valley, we discovered three or four tents made of coarse cloth near which we were met by our masters and a number of men whom we had not before seen, all armed with either a double barrelled musket, a scimitar, or dagger. They were all of the same nation and tribe, for they shook hands at meeting* and seemed very friendly to each other, though they stopped p.nd examined us, as if disposed to question the right of property.

It now appeared there was still some difficulty i'n deciding to whom each one of us belonged ; for seizing hold of i^s, some dragged one way and some anpther, disputing very loudly and frequently drawing their weapons. It was however decided at last, after making us go different ways for the space of two or three hours with different men, that myself and the cook should remain, for the present, in the hands of our first master. They gave Clark to another, and Horace to a third. We had come near a couple of tents, and were certainly disgusting objects, being naked and almost skinless; this was sometime about noon, when three women came out who had not before seen us, and having satisfied their curiosity by gazing at us, they expressed their disgust and contempt by spitting at us as we went along, making their faces still more horrid by every possible contortion of their frightful features; this we afterwards found to be their constant practice wherever we went until after we got off the desart.

Towards evening a great number of the men having collected in a little valley, we were made to stop, and as our bodies were blistered and burnt to such a degree as to excite pity in the breasts of some of the men, they used means to have a tent cleared out for us to sit under. They then allowed all those of our crew present to sit under it; but Porter and Burns had been separated from me shortly after our capture, and, as may well be supposed, we were glad to meet one another again, miserable as we all were. A council was now held by the natives near the tent; they were about one hundred and fifty frien, some very old, some middle aged, and some quite young. I soon found they were Mohamedans, and the proper names by which they frequently called each other were Mohamed, Hamet, Seid, Sideullah, Abdallah, &c. so that by these and the female names Fatima, Ezimah, Sarah, &c. I knew them to be Arabs or Moors.

The council were deliberating about us; and having talked the matter over a long time, seated on the ground, with their legs crossed under them in circles of from ten to twenty each, they afterwards arose and came to us. One of the old men then addressed me ; he seemed to be very intelligent, and though he spoke a language I was unacquainted with, yet he explained himself in such a plain and distinct manner, sounding every letter full like the Spaniards, that with the help of signs I was able to understand his meaning. He wanted to know what country we belonged to; I told him we were English; and as I perceived the Spanish language was in sound more like that which they spoke than any other I knew, I used the phrase Inglesis; this seemed to please him, and he said “ O Fransah, O Spaniah meaning “orFrenchmen or Spaniards;” I repeated we were English. He next wanted to know which point of the horizon we came from, and I pointed to the Norths

They bad seen our boat, which they called Zooergctj and wanted to know if we had come all the way in that boat: I told them no, and making a kind of coast, by heaping up sand, and forming the shape of a vessel, into which I struck sticks for masts and bow* sprit, &c. Lgave him to understand that we had been in a large vessel, and wrecked on the coast by a strong wind; then by tearing down the mast and covering up the vessel’s form with sand, I signified to him that she was totally lost. Thirty or forty of the other Arabs were sitting around us,paying the strictest attention to every one of my words and gestures, and assisting the old man to comprehend me. He wished to know where w r e were going, and what cargo the vessel (which I now found they called Sfenah ) had on board. I satisfied them in the best way I could, on this point, telling them that I had on board, among other things, dollars: they wanted to know how many, and gave me a bowd to imitate the measure of them; this I did by filling it with stones and emptying it three times. They were much surprised at the quantity, and seemed to be dissatisfied that they had not got a share of them. They then wanted to know which way the vessel lay from us, and if we had seen any of the natives, whom they called Moslemin.

This' I took to be what we call Mussulmen, or followers of the Mahommedan doctrine, and in this I was not mistaken. I then explained to them in what manner we had been treated by the inhabitants; that they had got all our clothing, except w’hat we had on when they foufid us; ail our money and provisions; massacred one of our number, and drove us out to sea. They then told me that they heard of the ship- wreck of a vessel a great way North, and of the money, &c. but that the crew were drowned in thee/ MBahar; this was so near the Spanish (La Mar) for the sea, that I could not misunderstand it. Thus having obtained what information they wanted on those points, they next desired to know if I knew any thing about Marocksh ; this sounded something like Morocco: I answered yes; next of the Sooltaan (the Sultan) to which instead of saying yes, I made signs of assent, for I found they did no more themselves, except by a cluck with the tongue.

They wanted me to tell his name, Soo Mook, but I could not understand them until they mentioned Moolay Solimaan ; this I remembered to be the name of the present emperor of Morocco, as pronounced in Spanish, nearly. I gave them to understand that I knew him ; had seen him with my eyes, and that he was a friend to me and to my nation. They next made me point out the direction towards his dominions, and having satisfied them that I knew which way his dominions lav from us, I tried to intimate to them, that if they would carry me there, I should be able to pay them for my ransom, and that of my crew. They shook their heads—it was a great distance, and nothing for camels to eat or drink on the way. My shipmates, who were with me, could not understand one, syllable of what they said, or of their signs, and did not believe that I was able to communicate at all with them. Having finished their council and talked the matter over among themselves, they separated, and our masters, taking each his slave, made off every one his own way. Although from the conference I derived hopes of our getting ransomed, and imparted the same to my mates and crew, yet they all seemed to think I was deluding them with false expectations; nor could I convince them of the contrary. We took another leave of each other, when we parted for the night, having travelled this day, I should guess, about fifteen miles S. E.

I had been so fully occupied since noon, that no thoughts of victuals or drink had occurred to my mind. We had none of us ate or drank any thing this day, except about half a gill of milk each in the morning at daylight, and about half a pint of black beach water near the middle of the day. I was delivered over to an Arab named Bichri, and went with him near his tent, where he made me lie down on the ground like a camel. Near midnight he brought me a bowl containing about a quart of milk and water; its taste was delicious, and as my stomach had become contracted by long hunger and thirst, I considered it quite a plentiful draught. I had been shivering with cold for a long time, as I had no covering nor skreen, and not even one of my shipmates to lie near rre to keep one side w r arm at a time. I was so far exhausted by fatigues, privations, &c. that my misery could no longer keep me awake. I sank into a deep sleep, and during this sleep I was troubled in the first place with the most frightful dreams.

I thought I was naked and a slave, and dreamed over the principal incidents which had already actually passed. I then thought I was driven by Arabs with red hot iron spears pointed at me on every side, through the most dreadful fire I had ever imagined, for near a mile, naked and barefoot; the flames up to my eyes, scorched every part of my skin off, and wasted away my flesh by roasting, burning, and drying it off to the bones; my torments were inconceivable—I now thought I looked,, up towards heaven, and prayed to the Almighty to receive my spirit, and end my sufferings; I was still in the midst of the flames; a bright spot like an eye, with rays around it, appeared above me in the firmament, with a point below it, reaching towards the N. E.—I thought if I went that way I should go right, and turned from the south to the N. E.; the fire soon subsided and I went on, still urged by them about me, with their spears pricking me from time to time over high sand hills and rocky steeps, my flesh dropping off in pieces as I went,—then descending a deep valley, I thought I saw green trees— flowering shrubs in blossom—cows feeding on green grass, with horses, sheep, and asses near me, and as I moved on, I discovered a brook of clear running Water: my thirst being excessive, I dragged my mangled limbs to the brook* threw myself down, and drank my fill of the most delicious water. When my thirst was quenched, I rolled in the brook to cool my body, which seemed still consuming with heat; tjien thanked my God in my heart for his mercies.

My masters in the meantime kept hurrying me on in the way pointed out by the All-seeing eye, which was still visible in the heavens above my head, through crooked, thorny, apd narrow paths, over high mountains and deep valleys—past hosts of armed men on horseback and on foot, and walled cities, until we met a tall young man dressed in the European and American manner, by the side of a brook, riding on a stately horse, who upon seeing me alighted, and rushing forward, wild with joy, naught me in his arms, and pressed me to his breast, ^ahing me by the endearing name of brother, in my own language—I thought I fainted in his arms from excess of joy, and when I revived, found myself in a neat room, with a table set in the best manner before me, covered with the choicest meats, fruits, and wines, and my deliverer pressing me to eat and drink; but finding me too much overcome to partake of this refreshment, he said, “ take courage, my dear friend, God has decreed that you shall again embrace your beloved' wife and children.” At this instant I was called by my master—I aw r oke, and found it was a dream.

Being daylight, (Sept. 12th) he ordered me to drive forward the camels; this I did for about an hour, but my feet were so much swelled, being lacerated by the cutting of the stones, which seemed as if they would penetrate to my heart at every step—I could not help stooping and crouching down nearly to the ground. In this situation, my first master Hamet observed me ; he was going on the same course, S. E. riding on his camel; he came near my present master, and after talking with him a good while, he took off the blanket from his back and gave it to Bickri—then coming close to me, made signs for me to stop. He next made his camel lie down; then fixing a piece of skin over his back behind the saddle, and making its two ends fast to the girths to keep it from slipping off, he bade me mount on it, while he got on his saddle and steadied me w'ith his hand until the camel rose. He then went on the same course as before, in company with three or four other men, well armed and mounted. The sun beat dreadfully hot upon my bare head and body, and it appeared to me that my head must soon split to pieces, as it was racking and cracking with excruciating pain. Though in this horrible distress, yet I still thought of my dream of the last night— “ a drowning man will catch at a straw,” says the proverb, and I can verily add, that the very faintest gleam of hope will keep alive the declining spirits of a man in the deepest distress and misery; for from the moment I began to reflect on what had passed through toy mind when sleeping, I felt convinced that though this was nothing more than a dream, yet still remembering how narrowly and often I had escaped immediate apparent death, and believing it was through the peculiar interposition of divine Providence, I could not but believe that the All-seeing eye was watching over my steps, and would in due time conduct me by his unerring wisdom, into paths that would lead to my deliverance, and restoration to my family.

I was never superstitious, nor ever did I believe in dreams or visions, as they are termed, or even remembered them, so as to relate any I may have had; but this dream made such an impression on my mind, that it was not possible for me to remove it from my memory—being now as fresh as at the moment I awoke after dreaming it, and I must add that^when I afterwards saw Mr. Wiltshire, I knew him to be the same man I had seen in my sleep. He had a particular mark on his chin—wore a light coloured frock coat, had on a white hat, and rode the same horse. From that time I thought if I could once get to the empire of Morocco, I should be sure to find a friend to relieve me and my com- .panions, whose heart was already prepared for it by superior power. My mind was thus employed until we came to a little valley where half a dozen tents were pitched; as soon as we saw them, Hamet made his camel kneel down, and me to dismount—he was met by several women and children, who seemed very glad to see him, and I soon found that they were his relations. He beckoned me to come towards his tent, for he lived there apparently with his mother, and brothers and sisters, but the woman and girls would not suffer me to approach them, driving me off with sticks, and throwing stones at me; but Hamet brought me a little sour milk and water in a bowl, which refreshed me considerably.

It was about tjvo o’clock in the day, and I was forced to remain broiling in the sun without either tree, shrub, or any other shade to shield me from its scorching rays, until night, when Dick (the cook) came in with the camels. Hamet had kept Dick from the beginning, and made him drive the camel?, but allowed him to sleep in one corner of the tent, and gave him for the few first days, as much milk as he could drink, once a day; and as he was a domestic slavey he managed to steal water, and sometimes sour milk when he was dry.

In the evening of this day, I was joined by Hogan, and now found that he and myself had been purchased by Hamet that day, and that Horace belonged to an ill-looking old man, whose tent was pitched in company. This old villain came near me, and saluted me by the name of Rais , asking me the name of his boy; (Horace) I told him it was Horace, which after repeating a few times, he learned so perfectly, that at every instant he was yelling out “ Hoh Rais ” for something or other. Hamet was of a much lighter colour than the other Arabs we were with, and I thought he was less cruel, but in this respect I found I was mistaken, for he made myself and Hogan lie on the ground in a place he chose, where the stones were very thick and baked into the ground so tight that we could not pull them out with our fingers, and we were forced to lie on their sharp points, though at a small distance, not more than fifty yards, was a spot of sand. This I made him understand, (pointing at the same time to my skinless flesh) but he signified to us that if we did not remain where he had ordered, we should get no milk when he milked the camels. I calculate we travelled this day about thirty miles.

Here then we staid, but not to sleep, until about the midnight hour, when Hamet came to us with our milk—It was pure and warm from the camels; and about a pint for each. The wind blew as is usual in the night, and on that part of the desart the air was extremely cold and damp; but- its moisture on our bodies was as salt as the ocean. Having received our share of milk, when all was still in the tent. We stole to the sandy place, where we got a little sleep during the remaining part of the night. Horace’s master would not permit him to come near me, nor me to approach him, making use of a stick, as well to enforce his commands in this particular, as to teach us to understand him in other respects.

At daylight (Sept. 13th) we were called on to proceed. The families struck their tents, and packed them on camels, together with all their stuff. They made us walk and keep up with the camels, though we were so stiff and sore all over that we could scarcely refrain from crying out at every step: such was our agony:—still pursuing our route to the S. E. In the course of the morning, I saw Mr. Williams; he was mounted on a camel, as we had all been the first day, and had been riding with the drove about three hours—I hobbled along towards him; his camel stopped, and I was enabled to take him by the hand—he was still entirely naked; his skin had been burned off; his whole body was so excessively inflamed and swelled, as well as his face, that I only knew him by his voice, whieh was very feeble. He told me he had been obliged to sleep naked in the open air every night; that his life was fast wasting away amidst the most dreadful torments; that he could not live one day more in such misery; that his mistress had taken pity on him, and anointed his body that morning with butter or grease, but, said he, “ I cannot live;” should you ever get clear from this dreadful place, and be re^ stored to your country, tell iny dear wife that my last breath was spent in prayers for her happiness' he could say no more ; tears and sobs choked his utterance.

His master arrived at this time, and drove on his camel, and I could only say to him, “ God Almighty bless you,” as I took a last look at him, and forgot, for a moment, while contemplating his extreme distress, my own misery. His camel w r as large, and moved forward with very heavy motions; as 'he went from me, I could see the inside of his legs and thighs—they hung in strings of torn and chafed flesh—the blood was trickling down the sides of the camel, and off his feet—“ my God!” I cried, “ suffer us not to live longer in such tortures.”

“ I had stopped about fifteen minutes, and my master’s camels had gained a great distance from me, so that I was obliged to run that I might come up wuth them. My mind was so shocked with the distresses of Mr. Williams, that I thought it would be impious for me to complain, though the sharp stones continued to enter my sore feet at every step. My master saw me, and stopped the drove for me to come up; when I got near him, he threatened me, shaking his stick over my head, to let me know what I had to expect if I dared to commit another fault. He then rode off, ordering me and Hogan to drive the camels on as fast as we could. About an hour afterwards he came near us, and beckoned to me to come to him, which I did. A tall old man, nearly as black as a negro, one of the most ill-looking and disgusting I had yet seen, soon joined my master, with two young men, whom I found afterwards were his sons—they were also joined by a number more on camels, and well armed.

After some time bartering about me, I was given to the old man, whose features showed every sign of the deepest rooted malignity in his disposition. And is this my master, thought I ? Great God! defend me from his cruelty! He began to go on—he was on foot; so were his two sons; but they walked faster than camels, and the old man kept snarling at me in the most surly manner, to make me keep up. I tried my very best, as I was extremely anxious to please him, if such a thing was possible, knowing the old adage of “the devil is good when he is pleased,” was correct, when applied to human beings; but I could not go fast enough for him; so after he had growled and kept on a considerable time, finding I could not keep up with him, he came behind me and thrust me forward with hard blows repeatedly applied to my exposed back, with a stout stick he had in his hand. Smarting and staggering under my wound, I made the greatest efforts to get on, but one of his still more inhuman sons, (as I then thought him) gave me a double barrelled gun to carry, with his powder horn and other accoutrements: they felt very heayy, yet after I had taken them, the old man did not again strike me, but went on towards the place where he meant to pitch his tent, leaving me to follow on as well as I could.

The face of the desart now appeared as smooth as the surface of the ocean, when unruffled by winds or tempests. Camels could be seen on every direction, as soon as they come above the horizon, so that there was no difficulty in knowing which way to go, and I took care to keep sight of my new master’s drove, until I reached the valley, in which he had pitched his tent I was broiling under the sun and tugging along, with my load, which weighed me down to the earth, and should have lain down des- pairing, had I not seen Mr. Williams in a still worse plight than myself.

Having come near the tent about four P. M. they took the load from me, and bid me lie down in the shade of the tent. I then begged for water, but could get none. The time now came on for prayers, and after the old man and his sons had performed this ceremony very devoutly, they went away. I was in so much pain, I could scarcely contain myself, and my thirst was more painful than it had yet beeti. I tried to soften the hearts of the women to get me a little water, but they only laughed and spit at me; and to increase my distresses as much as they could, drove me away from the shade of the tent, so that I was forced to remain in the scorching sun for the remainder of this long day.

A little after sunset my old and young masters returned ; they were joined by all the men that were near, to the number of from twenty to thirty, and went through their religious ceremonies in a very solemn manner, in which the women and little children did not join them. Soon after this was over, Clark came in with the camels and joined me; it would have been pleasant to be together, but his situation was such that it made my heart-ache still worse than it did before; he was nearly without a skin; every part of his body exposed; his flesh excessively mangled, burnt and inflamed. “ I am glad to see you once more, sir,” said Clark, “ for I cannot live through the approaching night, and now beg of you, if you ever get to our country again, to tell my brothers and sisters how I perished.” I comforted him all I could, and assured him he would not die immediately; that the nourishment we now had, though very little, was sufficient to keep us alive for a considerable time, and that though our skins were roasted off and our flesh inflamed, we were yet alive without any signs of putrefaction on our bodies; that I had great hopes we should all be carried in a few days from this desart to where we might get some food to nourish us, and as I had learned a little of the language of these people, (or savages) I would keep trying to persuade them that if they would carry us up the Moorish dominions, I should be able to pay them a great ransom for all the crew; for an old man had told me that as soon as it should rain they would journey to the N. E. and sell us.

The night came on; cold damp winds succeeded to the heat of the day', and I begged of my old master to be permitted to go under the corner of his tent, (for it was a large one) and he seemed willing, pointing out a place for us to lie down in, but the women would not consent, and we remained outside until the men had milked the camels. They then gave us a good drink of milk, near a quart each, and after the women were asleep, one of my young masters', named Omar, (the same that made me carry his gun. the preceding day, to keep his father from beating me) took pity on our distresses, and came and made us creep under one corner of the tent, without waking the women, where some soft sand served us for a bed, and the tent kept off the cold air from us; and here we slept soundly ufttil morning. As soon as the women awoke, and found us tinder the tent, they were for thrusting us out with blows, but I pretended to be asleep, and the old man looking on us, seemed somewhat concerned, fearing (as I thought) he might lose his property. He told his women to let us alone, and as he was absolute, they were forced to obey him, though with every appearance 6f reluctance.

After they had milked the camels, and took a drink themselves, they gave us what remained, that is to say, near a pint between us. They did not move forward this way, and suffered us to remain under the corner of the tent in the shade all the while and the next night, and even gave us a piece of a skin to cover us with in part, and keep off the night wind. They gave us a good drink of milk when they drank themselves on the second night, and Omar had given us about a pint of water each, in the middle of the day; so that the inflammation seemed to .have subsided in a great degree from our flesh and feet.

This attention, together with the two good nights’ rest, revived us* very much—these were the 14th and 15th days of September. I had not seen any of iny unfortunate shipmates except Clark, and did not know where they were during the day we remained still. The camels were driven off’ early in the morning by a negro slave and two of the small boys, and did not return until in the night—they Went out to the east to find shrubs for them to feed on. Clark was obliged near night to go out and pull up some dry thorn bush shrubs and roots to make a fire with. At the return of the camels, the negro slave (who was a stout fellow, named Boireck) seated hitoself by the fire, stretching out his legs on each side of it, and seeing us Under the tent, thought to drive us out; but as he was not permitted by our old Inaster, he contented himself by pointing at us and making comparisons: then sneeringly addressing me by the name of Rias, or chief, would set up a loud laugh, which, with the waggery he displayed in his remarks on us, kept the whole family and several strangers who had assembled on the occasion, ip a constant roar of laughter until midnight, the hour for milking the camels. He would poke our sore flesh with a sharp stick, to make sport, and show the Arabs what miserable beings we were, who could not even bear the rays of the sun (the image of God, as they term it) to shine upon us.

Being tormented in this manner, my companion Clark could scarcely contain his wrath: “it was bad enough, (he said) to be reduced to slavery by the savage Arabs ; to be stripped, and skinned alive and mangled, without being obliged to bear the scoffs and derision of a d——d negro slave.” I told him I was very glad to find he still had so much spirits left, and could feel as if he wished to revenge an insult—it proved to me that he felt better than he did the preceding night, and as I was so much relieved myself, my hopes of being able to,endure our tortures and privations increased, adding, “ let the negro laugh if he can take any pleasure in it; I am willing he shbuld do so* even at my expense: he is a poor slave himself, naked and destitute, far from his family and friends, and is only trying to gain the favour of his masters and mistresses, by making sport of us, whom he considers as much inferior to him as he is to them.” Clark could not be reconciled to this mode of mockery and sport, but the negro kept, it up as long as we remained with his master, every night, and always had plenty of spectators to admire his wit, and laugh at his tricks and buffoonery. This reminded me of the story of Samson, when the Philistines wished to make sport with him; he was blind, and they supposed him harmless; but he became so indignant, that he was willing to suffer death to be revenged of them; the difference was, he had strength to execute his will,— we had not.

From the 15th to the 18th, we journeyed every day to the S. E. about thirty miles a day, merely to find a few shrubs in the small scattered valleys for the camels, and consequently for the inhabitants to subsist on. As we went on in that direction, the valleys became less frequent and very shallow; the few thorn bushes they produced were very dry, and no other shrubs to be found; the camels could hot fill their stomachs with the leaves and shrubs”, nor with all that they could crop off, though they pulled away the branches as thick as a man’s finger. The milk began to fail, and consequently we had to be scanted, so that our allowanc^ was reduced to half a pint a day, and as all the water they had taken from the well was expended, they could give us no more of that precious article. There was belonging to this tribe four mares that were the general property; they were very clear limbed, apd very lean; they fed them on milk every day, and every one took his turn in giving them as much water every two days as they would drink. These mares drank up the last of our water on the 19th, nor would my master allow me to drink what little was left in the bowl, not exceeding half a pint, and it was poured out as a drink offering before the Lord, while they prayed for rain, which indeed they had reason to expect, as the season they knew was approaching,'when some rain generally happens, f supposed our distance from the sea, or the well that we had left, to be three hundred miles in a direct line, and feared very much that we should not find water at any other place. The sustenance we received was just sufficient to keep the breath of life in us, but our flesh was less inflamed than in the first days, for we had continued to lie under a part of th^ tent at night, and also in the day-time when it was pitched, which was generally the case about two o’clock in the afternoon. We had, however, become so emaciated, that we could scarcely stand, and they did not attempt to make me nor Clark do any kind of work, except gather a few dry sticks, towards evening, to light a fire. The swellings had also gone down in some measure from our feet, as there was not substance enough in us to keep up a running sore; all the moisture*in them seemed to dry away, and we could support the prickings and cutting of the stones better as we became lighter and more inured to it. We had endeavoured to find some of the kind of root that was met with near the sea coast, but none could be procured. In every valley we came to, the natives would run about and search under every thorn bush, in hopes to find some herb, for they were nearly as hungry as ourselves. In some places a small plant was found, resembling what we call shepherd’s sprout; they were torn up by them and devoured in an instant. I got one or two, but they proved very bitter, and were impregnated, in a considerable degree, with salt: these plants were so rare as to be scarcely of any benefit. There were also found by the natives, in particular places, a small ground root, whose top showed itself like a single short spear of grass, about three inches above the ground; they dug it up with a stick; it was of the size of a small walnut, and in shape very much like an onion; its taste fresh, without any strong flavour; but it was very difficult to find, and afforded us very little relief, as we could not get more than half a dozen in a whole day’s gearch, and some days none at all.

On the 19th of September, in the morning, the tribe having held a council the night before, at which I could observe my old master was looked up to as a man of superior judgment and influence, they began a route back again towards the sea, and the well near which we were first made slaves;—this convinced me that no fresh w^er could / be procured nearer, and as the camels were almost dry, I much feared that myself and my companions must perish before we could reach it. I had been in the habit every day since I was on the desart, of relieving my excessive thirst by the disagreeable expedient before mentioned; but that resource now failed me for the want of moisture, nor had any thing passed through my body since the day I left the well. We had journeyed for seven and a half days S. E. and I concluded it would require the same time to return; but on the 18th we steered N. E. and on the 19th we took a N. W. direction, and in the course of the day we entered a very small valley, where we found a few little dwarf thorn bushes, not more than two feet high; on these we found some snails, most of which were dead and dry, but I got about a handful that were alive, and when a fire was kindled, roasted and ate them—Clark did the same, and as we did not receive more than a gill of milk each in twenty- four hours, this nourishment was very serviceable.

On the morning of the 20th we started, as soon as it was light, and drove very fast all the day. We had no other drink than the camels’ urine, which wd caught in our hands as they voided it; its taste was bitter, but not salt, and it relieved our fainting spirits. We were forced to keep up with the drove, but in the course of the day found a handful of snails each, which we at night roasted and ate. Our feet, though not swollen, were extremely sore; our bodies and limbs were nearly deprived of skin and flesh, for we continually wasted away, and the little we had on our bones was dried hard, and stuck fast to them. My head had now become accustomed to the heat of the sun, and though it remained uncovered, it did not pain me. Hunger, that had preyed upon my cotnpanions to such a degree as to cause them to bite off the flesh from their arms, had not the same effect on me. I was forced in one instance to tie the arms of one of my men behind him, in order to prevent his gnawing his own flesh; and in another instance, two of them having caught one of the boys, a lad about four years old, out of sight of the tents, were about dashing his brains out with a stone, for the purpose of devouring his flesh, when luckily at that instant I came up and rescued the child, with some difficulty, from their voracity. They were so frantic with hunger, as to insist upon having one meal of his flesh, and then they said they would be willing to die; f®r they knew that not only themselves, but all the crew would be instantly massacred as soon as the murder should be discovered. I convinced them that it would be more manly to die with hunger than to become cannibals and eat their own or other human flesh, telling them, at the same time, I did not doubt but our masters would give us sufficient nourishment to keep us alive, until they could sell us. On the 20th, we proceeded with much speed towards the N. W. or sea shore; but on the 21st, we did not go forward.

This day I met with Mr. Savage, Horace, Hogan, and the cook; their masters’ tents were pitched near ours; they were so weak, emaciated and sore, that they could scarcely stand, and had been carried on the camels for the last few days. I was extremely glad to see them, and spoke to all but Horace, whose master drove me off with a stick one way, and Horace another, yelling most horribly at the same time and laying it on Horace’s back with great fury. I soon returned to our tent, and felt very much dejected; they all thought they could not live another day—there were no snails to be found here, and we had not onexlrop of milk or water to drink. Horace, Hogan, and the cook were employed in attending their masters’ camels, in company with one or two Arabs, who kept flogging them nearly the whole.of the time r My old master did not employ me or Clark in the same way, because he had two negro slaves to do that work; he was a rich man among them, and owned from sixty to seventy camels; he was also a kind of priest, for every evening he was joined, in his devotions, by all the old and most of the young men near his tent. They all first washed themselves with sand in place of water; then wrapping themselves up with their strip of cloth and turning their faces to the east, my old master stepped oujj before them, and commenced by bowing twice, repeating at each time “Allah Houakibar then kneeling and bowing his head to the ground twice; then raising himself up on his feet, and repeating, “ Hi el Allah Sheda Mohamed Rahsool Allah," bowing himself twice; and again prostrating himself on the earth as many times, then “ Allah Houakibar ” was three times repeated. He was always accompanied in his motions and words by all present who could see him distinctly, as he stood before them* He would then make a long prayer, and they recited altogether what I afterwards found to be a chapter in t,he Koran; and then all joined in chanting or singing some hymn or sacred poetry for a considerable time. This ceremony being finished, they again prostrated themselves with their faces to the earth, and the service concluded.

About the middle of this day two strangers arrived, riding two camels loaded with goods: they came in front of my master’s tent, and having made the camels lie down, they dismounted, and seated themselves on the ground opposite the tent, with their faces turned the other way. There were in this valley six tents, besides that of my masters.


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