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by certain little acts of my servant; led me at last to reconcile the apparent anomaly of a very rascally proceeding, according to our ideas of social propriety, being quite compatible in Shoa with real fidelity, for my servant, the best that any man by good fortune could have fallen in with, reported every day to Tinta, whilst he remained in Aliu Amba, every visit I made or received, and I could not propose to go even to the next town for a morning's walk, but some reason would be found to defer it until after a consultation with my balderabah, or at least my intention made known to him.
This system of surveillance was most unpleasant to me, because of the groundless suspicions it seemed to betray; but I was sensible that my best policy was to pretend not to see this jealous care, but by every endeavour on my part, to deserve and secure the confidence of a prince whom I admired for his virtues, and the respect of a people, none but the most depraved themselves, could help liking for their simplicity, and for the extreme goodness of their disposition.
Study of Amharic.—Remarks upon wet season in Abyssinia.—Sad
prospect of recovery.—Accident to Walderheros.-Books in the Amharic language.—Messages from the Negoos.--Inconvenience of living with Miriam.—Require a house.—Expenditure.Choosing a residence.
For several days I continued to apply closely to the study of the Amharic language. My fever paroxysms on alternate days, became gradually less violent, and my simple fare and regular habits whilst living in Aliu Amba, seemed to promise the re-establishment of my health. The only thing I dreaded was the continual wet weather, which had now set in decidedly.
In Shoa the rains commence in the month of June, Messrs. Isenberg and Krapf say about the 21st, and from the long residence of those gentlemen in Abyssinia, they must be considered very good authority. This year, the first rain that fell was on the 7th of July, but this was an extraordinary irregularity, for which the inhabitants could only account by referring it to the presence of the “Gypt sowitsh;” as subsequently, when it came down in greater quantities than they desired, and
THE RAINY SEASON.
continued for a still more extraordinary long season. This evil was also charged to their unlucky visitors, many old monks having denounced the appearance of the white men as being the threatening harbinger of some coming evil.
On making some inquiries respecting the commencement of the rainy season, Walderheros and others, whom I questioned, stated the first day was generally considered to be St. Michael's-day, the eighteenth of June, when the King distributes the yearly clothing to his courtiers and slaves. This custom may, in some measure, be determined by the commencement of the rains, and in that case the observation of the natives differs but slightly from those of the English missionaries.
A severe thunder storm, attended by two distinct shocks of an earthquake, at an interval of a few seconds, ushered in the first heavy fall of rain. No very serious consequences resulted; a few rocks were detached from the heights above, blocking up the narrow road to Ankobar in some places, and in others, ploughing deep channels through the young green crops. A few days previously to this convulsion, the town of Ankobar, and the ridge on each side of it, had been enveloped in clouds, that hung low down the precipitous cliffs like immensely large festooned curtains, which were now raised, and again lowered, as the morning, mid-day, or afternoon sun acted differently upon the temperature of the atmosphere.
An unpleasant circumstance was communicated to me very feelingly during the storm on this occasion. The straw roof of Miriam's house was a great resort of lizards, and their long serpentine burrows in the tħatch were so many irrigating canals, all of which, for my sins, I suppose, according to Abyssinian ideas of judgment, terminated over my bed-place, and I found that unless something was done to remedy this evil, either by altering my course of life, or by applying more straw to the roof, I must drag out the remainder of my life in a shower-bath. As to getting well of an ague under such circumstances, even my sanguine disposition gave up the idea, and Walderheros, whose fortune at court depended upon my health being established, was shockingly excited at this sad prospect of recovery, and was up and looking into the matter immediately after the brief thunder-storm had ceased.
The lowness of the walls facilitated his examination, and stepping from the ground he essayed to mount the roof, but the very next moment I saw his black naked leg thrust quite through the frail stick construction ; filling the whole place with decayed thatch and dirt, besides threatening my ribs beneath the hanging foot, with no gentle application of his heel, as he convulsively, but vainly endeavoured to extricate himself. Fortunately, a straw-band, which in his agony he had seized and held on by as a centre of support, broke with the violence of
the struggles he made to escape, and he was again tumbled backwards out of the hole, head and neck over on to the ground, quite as suddenly and as expeditiously as he had before fallen into the dilemma. Confounding his zeal, and that of all such injudicious friends, I was in no humour to laugh when he came in, covered with mud and broken bits of straw, as if he had been tarred and feathered; whilst the shouts and jeers of all the boys of the neighbourhood, and Miriam's high displeasure, was all the return he got for the readiness he shewed to risk in my service, his very heavy carcase upon a rotten roof. An ahmulah was the estimate of the damage done: Walderheros procuring for that sum straw sufficient to thatch the whole roof afresh, and before night, such was his dexterity, and that of some of the neighbours who good-naturedly came forward to assist him, the work was finished, and the house several ahmulahs better for comfort, considering the season, than previously to the accident.
A long coarse grass, called “ cimbyllal,” three or four feet long, which grows chiefly in what is called, “Wana daggan middre," that is land situated between the “ colla” or low land, and the
daggan,” or elevated table land, is chiefly used in thatching Abyssinian houses. Straw is too valuable as fodder, to be so employed, even if its broken and bruised condition after the grain has been thrashed out, in the usual maner, by the feet