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TRAVELS IN SOUTHERN ABYSSINIA,
Staying at Farree.-Alarm of Galla attack.—Return to Kokki.
Women of Kafilah carried into slavery.—Five Gallas killed.Triumph of Hy Soumaulee victors.—Return to Dinnomalee.The Wallasmah Mahomed.-Seizure of the letters.—Return to Farree.
May 23.--I had scarcely opened my eyes, after the first night's rest in Abyssinia, when a heavy knocking at the door, and repeated calls for me, made me get up in a great hurry to know the reason of such a disturbance. I found the escort all in an uproar, and they pushed past me into the house for their weapons, where they had been safely deposited under my care, and which, as soon as they were seized, away my friends ran, one after another, in the direction of Dinnomalee. Ohmed Medina, who had suddenly sprung up from somewhere, sat upon his mule in the market-place, and
was shouting for me to come, whilst one of his slaves was hastily saddling my mule also. I could not make out what was the matter, but as the word “Galla” was in the mouth of every one, I suspected that an attack had been made upon the stores during the night by those marauders, and began to be afraid that I had calculated too surely upon their being safe when at Dinnomalee.
Getting myself ready as quickly as possible, I was soon galloping along the road, following Ohmed Medina. We stayed not a moment at Dinnomalee, but a look satisfied my greatest anxiety; for the stores were all safe, and I cared for nothing else, so with a mind much easier, I called out to Ohmed Medina, for the first time, to ask what, and where the disturbance was. He only turned his face towards me, as he called out “ Dophan,” and “Galla,” urging his mule on as he spoke, as if he wished he had wings to fly at once to the little town of halfcivilized Wahamas, we had passed yesterday on this side of Kokki. We overtook, and gradually left behind us, all the Hy Soumaulee, who, in a far-apart, straggling line, were hastening to the rescue. As we came up to each of these, a vain attempt was made to keep alongside of us, but our pace was too good, and we entered alone the small densely-wooded valley, then along the deep ravine, and at length pulled up on the camping ground we had left yesterday morning, when the leading camels of the Hy Soumaulee Kafilah came in sight, and where
TRIUMPH OF THE VICTORS. they had halted for the night; the greater part of the Tajourah camels alone coming on after us to Dinnomalee the same day.
On our arrival, preparations were being hastily made by the Kafilah to proceed on the march to Dinnomalee; all seemed conscious they had stayed in this place a night too long, and anxious to get away before any other mishap should happen. Some busy talkers surrounded Ohmed Mahomed and Ebin Izaak, who had come in a few minutes before us, and were listening to details of the deeds of blood, the evidences of which were five still bleeding bodies, that lay naked in different places upon the little green sloping bank that rose from the stream, and upon which the encampment stood.
Carmel Ibrahim and another of my escort were busy paring the skin of a goat, just killed, into the little twisted “ symbil,” or ornaments, with which it is usual to adorn the head, wrists, ankles, and also the weapons of warriors who have slain a foe. Whilst thus employed, they sung in a sharp falsetto voice some song of triumph, their voices being elevated considerably, as every fresh comer from Dinnomalee arrived. Above us, to the left, the inhabitants of the little town were making sad lamentations, and loud sobbing cries over the dead body of one of their people who had been killed in the engagement.
From what we were now told, it appeared that a little before sunrise, several women of the Kafilah had gone down to a place at some distance from
WOMEN CARRIED AWAY.
the camp, where the little stream spread out into a pool, to fill their affaleetahs and gourd-shells with water for the march. Here they were seized by a large body of Hittoo Gallas, who, during the night, had approached the Kafilah, and were lying concealed in this situation, awaiting for the camels to be loaded, so that after an attack they might drive them with their loads quickly away. On being discovered, the greater part seized the women and carried them away at once, whilst another body rushed over the little stream hoping still to be able to surprise the Kafilah before the men had assembled for its protection. One Dophanter man, who had followed the women, attempted to escape by running towards the camp, but a pursuing Galla launched his spear, and transfixed him through the back, so that a wound was visible under the breast, corresponding to the much larger one in the back. His cries, however, called the Hy Soumaulee to arms, of whom more than four times the number of the Galla collected immediately, and before the latter were aware of the strength of the party they were about to attack, they were too near to escape some retributive punishment. Immediately the Hy Soumaulee saw them commencing to retire, they were on their feet, following them fast down the little slope to the brook, and succeeded in killing five of the daring robbers, before they could ascend the opposite bank. The rest made good their retreat to the main body, who had now got some
SONG OF TRIUMPH.
distance with the women, and together formed a force far too great for the Hy Soumaulee people to hope to attack it with advantage. They were obliged, therefore to halt, form a semicircular squatting line, and be passive spectators of their women, seven of whom belonged to the Kafilah, and three to the town of Dophan, being carried away into captivity
Three Gallas were killed by spears, the others had been stabbed in the throat and chest, and probably died fighting fairly enough. Carmel Ibrahim was one happy man-slayer, and also the brother of Moosa, and they kept up their song of triumph all the time we stayed here, except when they took me to see the bodies of those they had killed. I observed that the Dankalli do not practise the brutal custom of disfiguring the slain, so common among the Amhara at the present time, and which was also a characteristic of Jewish warfare. The arms and shields, not only of the Gallas who had been killed, but also numerous others that the fugitives had thrown away, fell to the lot of those who picked them up in the latter case, and to the victors in the former. Two of the other successful Hy Soumaulee were so busy fixing in their own belts the newly-obtained knives, which were much better than their own, that they did not attempt to raise the song, like Carmel and his friend, who, perhaps, only did it to attract my attention. Ohmed Medina informed me that I must give them a present, and upon my asking why, he said it was the custom for masters