網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

176

DEALING IN SLAVES.

to the mouth, until it had entirely disappeared. Mahriam, the slave-girl, who sat with the rest, was not neglected, for a larger portion came to her share than to any of the others. Slaves generally are considered by their owners in the light of near relations, or rather, perhaps, as foster children. When their conduct is so very bad as to alienate the affection of their indulgent masters, they are not unfrequently dismissed. Latterly, however, a greater relaxation in the principles of the Christians of Shoa, as in other portions of Abyssinia, has led to a punishment for refractory slaves, by selling them to their Mahomedan neighbours, who soon forward them to the coast. Canon law prohibits this custom of selling slaves altogether, but a system of smuggling in this unhappy commodity is extensively carried on, by the very priests of the religion itself, who are continually bringing slavechildren to Aliu Amba market from Gurague, and other Christian states to the south of Shoa.

The repast being concluded, all wiped their pottage-soiled fingers upon the last fragments of the bread, which were then duly swallowed. Mahriam now got up, and from out a gourd-shell poured a little water upon the hands of each of the party, who, rubbing the fingers together a little, then dried them upon their ample tobes. A gambo of strong ale called thalah, containing at least five gallons, was now opened, and deep horn cups were frequently replenished, whilst a lively conversation concerning the

WALDERHEROS QUITE HAPPY.

177

events of the last two or three days was kept up; a very highly-coloured account of my reception by the Negoos, no doubt, having been given by Walderheros, who, as principal speaker upon the occasion, was in the happiest mood possible, and though generally very careful of his tapers on other occasions, he found himself obliged to light the remaining half-yard, to afford him time to conclude his long narration.

VOL. II.

CHAPTER XI.

Leave Ankobar.- Arrive in Aliu Amba.—Musical party.

Durgo.—Arrangements with Tinta.—Remarks upon internal Government of Shoa.—The authority of Sehale Selassee. His virtues.

Having slept well during the night, in spite of the very numerous fleas, and similar trifling annoyances, to which I had become in some measure accustomed, as must every traveller in Abyssinia, I arose, like a giant refreshed; for one comfort, amidst all the disheartening circumstances that oppressed me was, that every other day was one of rest, on which I was, comparatively speaking, well. A few beads to Eichess and Mahriam, repaid them for their attention, and my mule being brought, before the sun had cast his first beams over the ridge in front of Ankobar, I was following Walderheros along a narrow winding lane, between high banks,

which grew the broad-leaved banana-like Ensete plant, and the thick coarse foliage of a dwarf tree called, “y'shokoko Gwomen,” the rock rabbit cabbage. In a short time, we emerged into the regular road to Aliu Amba, called the lower road, in contradistinction to the

on

RIDE TO ALIU AMBA.

179

one that leads through Ankobar above, and after an hour's ride, I arrived upon the market-place portion of the rock of Aliu Amba, long before Walderheros, but the mule took me direct to my old quarters at Miriam's house, along the labyrinth of lanes that would otherwise have sorely puzzled me. Here I was received by a crowd of women, who announced my arrival with a loud and longcontinued cry of “La, La, La,"

of “La, La, La," a customary welcome, never omitted on the return home of any one who has been absent for a time. I subsequently observed, that the more chance there was of receiving an ahmulah to spend in ale afterwards, the more joyous was the cry, and more numerous was the assembly. Two native fiddlers also presented themselves, immediately that I had seated myself in the house, bringing with them their instruments, and a little doll dressed up to represent an Amhara soldier, with small but well-made models of spear, shield, and the peculiar crooked sword of the country.

Their fiddles were clumsy-looking affairs, consisting of a long handle, a lozenge-shaped parchment body, and one string formed of a loose bundle of horse-hairs, that at the upper extremity of the handle were secured to a moveable pin of wood three or four inches long, and after being carried over a bridge which stood upon one of the parchment faces, were looped down to a little projection beyond. The string thus formed, was

180

MUSICAL EXHIBITION.

tightened at pleasure, by simply twisting it upon the stick pin. The bows were caricatures of the European ones, being little tough boughs of some tree or other, bent into a semicircle, the two ends being connected by a loose band of horse-hair of the same character as the fiddle-string. A piece of attan, or the frankincense of Arabia, served the musicians instead of resin, and was kept in little bags that were suspended by strings from the handles of their instruments. A sharp pointed stick being pushed into the ground, the doll was fixed upon it so that it could move freely about. It was then connected by a long string with the bow of the fiddle, the motion of the one whilst playing, making the other jump about in the most approved Jim Crow fashion, to the great delight of the naked, chattering, dark-skinned children, who pushed their faces and little limbs among their equally amused, but more staid elders, who thronged the house to witness the performance. When the musicians departed, a present of two ahmulahs made them quite happy, and after they were gone, and the greater part of the company with them, Sheik Tigh and Hadjji Abdullah came in to ask the news, and to hear about the success of my journey to Angolahlah. Miriam, by dint of a great deal of puffing at a little stick fire, before which she knelt, managed at length, to prepare some coffee. My pipe was filled, and Walderheros, who in the mean time had come in, was sent to

« 上一頁繼續 »