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46

ATROCIOUS TYRANNY

I felt very

effect of restoring him to perfect good humour: indeed, to show his regard for us, much to our surprise, he directed some of his attendants to liberate the unfortunate messenger who had been detected bringing me a letter the day before Mr. Scott's arrival, and who, we conceived, had returned to Ankobar, according as had been stated on one of our first visits by the Wallasmah himself. Instead of this being the fact, we now found that the poor fellow had been the whole time confined in his thatched lock-up, and supplied with a scanty fare of the worst kind of bread and water. sorry for him when he came staggering out of prison, with blood-shot eyes and squalid look; and it was with feelings of pity rather than of contempt, that I witnessed the broken spirited man, with shoulders bare, and with the most abject submission, stoop and kiss the earth at the feet of his unjust and tyrannical oppressor. The Wallasmah, with the penetrating glance of suspicious cunning, read in my countenance the detestation I felt at such unwarrantable conduct on his part, and muttered in excuse, something about the man having been

one of Krapf's servants," as if he considered that quite a sufficient pretext for the harshest treatment. The Mahomedans of Efat fully believe, that the exhortations of that zealous missionary alone prevented the Negoos from changing his religion ; as, shortly before his arrival in Shoa, a Koran and a mollum to expound it to the Christian monarch, had been sent for to the palace.

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Mr. Scott and I were so astonished at seeing the man whom we thought to be far distant, that we could not say anything. It would have been a great relief to my indignation if I could have told my thoughts to the old scoundrel, but this being out of the question, I walked away as quickly as possible from his presence, followed by Mr. Scott and our servants; and I do hope that our abrupt and unceremonious departure annoyed him a little, and thus retaliated in some measure for his contempt of, and disrespect towards us.

The politic Sahale Selassee, Negoos of Shoa, is well aware of the character of the Wallasmah, and the value of having such an imbecile ruling over the restless Mahomedan population of his kingdom. A governor, indeed, of whom he may truly say, as our Charles the Second did of himself and of his brother the Duke of York, “That his subjects would never kill him to make the other King.”

The inhabitants of Efat, much as they dislike the opprobrious position of living under a Christian monarch, never entertain an idea of revolting from the Negoos to place themselves under the power of that vindictive drunkard the Wallasmah Mahomed; whose only claim to their respect is his religion and his descent from the hero of modern Abyssinian history, Mahomed Grahnè, of whose extensive kingdom of Adal this little province of Efat, not so large as Middlesex, is all that has remained to his family, and even that is now a portion of the Christian state of Shoa.

CHAPTER IV.

Leave Farree for Ankobar. — Description of the road.—Aliu

Amba.-Road to Ankobar.—Incidents of the journey.-—Vale of the Dinkee river.—Valley of the Airahra.—Effect of denudation.—Ankobar.—British Residency.—Start for Angolahlah.Ascent of the Tchakkah.—Road to Angolahlah.—The town of Angolahlah.—Meet superior officers of Mission.

May 31st.—Long before the sun had appeared upon the horizon our mules were saddled and bridled ; the hotel bill for Mr. Scott and myself duly discharged, by a present of two dollars to the owner of the house where we had been entertained and imprisoned ; farewells were exchanged for the last time with some of my Kafilah friends, and of my escort; and we were off on our journey to Angolahlah, just as the distant elevated hills near Ankobar, and the ridge or line of the table land of Shoa beyond these, were brightly gilded by the first rays of the rising luminary. Steadily we descended the loose stony declivity of the hill of Farree, then clattered more briskly along a winding road that, taking us round the base of a much higher eminence, shut us out entirely from the sight of the white tobed townspeople, who sat

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along the edges of their own cliffs to watch our progress so far on our journey.

We now descended a bank of about four feet high into the bed of the stream, by whose denuding agency the rocky flanks of the adjoining hills had been laid bare. Trees of irregular height, and of very various foliage, bordered the broad pebbly channel, along which a gently rippling brook meandered, its course opposed to ours as it flowed to join the Hawash. Sometimes it scoured a little ledge of gravel, or fell over and among high boulders, the evidences of its power in the time of its fullest might, during the heavy rains of July and August; when its swollen volume, yellow with suspended mud, rushes along its then pent-up bounds, bearing before it rocks, uprooted trees, and the rotting debris of jowarhee, beans, or teff, from the upland fields which it has devastated in its course.

We rode for some time along the bed of the stream, following its serpentine channel, until we turned

upon its right bank, and began to ascend a long gradual slope, which having overcome, only led us to a descent equally irksome, both to riders and mules, from its continued inclination downwards. At its base we crossed another stream, and then began to climb another height, and then came again the equally tiresome descent on the opposite side. And thus we proceeded for at least four hours, alternate hill and stream in regular

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50

PROCEED ON OUR JOURNEY.

succession, until we arrived at Aliu Amba; a village perched upon a flat-topped isolated rock that, nearly at right angles with the road, juts across the upper end of a pretty little valley, along which we had been coming for the last half hour.

When we had managed to scramble over a series of irregular and quite naturally disposed stone steps, and had gained the level summit of this ridge, I turned to look in the direction from whence we had come, and contemplated it with great satisfaction; congratulating myself at having got two-thirds of the heavy business over of ascending the long flight of hill steps which, gradually increasing in elevation, form a kind of giant staircase from our starting place at Farree to the table land of Shoa.

At Aliu Amba we met numbers of Christian Abyssinians, and were taken to the house of the Governor, also a Christian, but who was absent in attendance upon the King.

upon the King. Every civility was paid to us, and numerous were the inquiries made after Lieut. Barker, who, it appears, had taken up his residence in this town some months previous to his return journey. I was glad to be able to say that I had had a personal interview with him, for I could see, that to be the “ Woodage Kapitan,” friend of the Captain, as he was called in Shoa, was a great recommendation; and although a lengthened levee, with a crowd of people whose language you cannot understand, is a terrible bore,

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