網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

96

AN EXTRAVAGANT IDEA.

with me.

hanging upon the wall, would, with the coolest impudence imaginable, hold their noses when they came into the house, as if it had become tainted by being killed by Walderheros.

Again, they always expected to have the first cup

of coffee handed to them, and, in fact, this was the only refreshment they ever deigned to partake

When my servant complained to me that my visitors represented this, which my politeness in the first place had induced me to practise, to be an acknowledgment of their superiority as Islam believers, I soon put a stop to the mistaken idea, and if they did not choose to take the only cup I had, after me, they went without. It was some time before they became reconciled to the precedence of a Christian, even in such a trivial matter as this. In doing as I did, there was, perhaps, but little credit on my side, for I opposed their prejudice from a zealous weakness that differed not the least from the principle which had actuated them; but the heart of man is everywhere the same.

“ Thus I trample,” said Diogenes, “ upon the pride of Plato.” “With equal pride,” retorted the insulted sage.

Towards evening it was usual whilst I lived at Miriam's, for me, attended by Walderheros, to walk to the edge of the precipitous face, looking towards the east, of the rock upon which Aliu Amba is built. Here, upon a large stone, high above the narrow winding footpath, that leads from one end

[blocks in formation]

of the ridge to the other, I would sit looking upon the narrow but fertile valley in front, formed by the junction of the two flanking streams that nearly encircled the hill. Numerous little tributaries on each side had formed small pyramidal knolls, carefully cultivated to the very tops. One in particular, higher than the rest, was crowned with a snuglooking village, the conical roof of the largest house in which, pointed into an exact cone the figure of the hill. The name of this village was Sar-amba; the road to Ankobar skirts along its base, leaving on the right hand the town and hill of Aliu Amba. To the left of my position, the peak of the stateprison hill of Gauncho, and the seat of the Wallasmah Mahomed, was just visible over a continuous range of hills, that diminished in elevation as they approached nearer to the town of Farree, and which marked very well the original level of the once sloping talus, or scarp, which connected the high table land of Abyssinia with the low plains around the Hawash.

Whilst sitting one evening upon my usual stone, the loud whining appeal of two turbaned dirty figures announced the presence of begging monks, an order very numerous in Shoa.

Their long prayer to the Almighty was still going on, and I in utter ignorance for what purpose two robust and healthy men could be addressing me in such a monotonous duet. Walderheros pretended to know nothing about them, and had it not been for some

[blocks in formation]

98

THE FAULTY AHMULAH.

women who stood by amusing themselves with the appearance of the new come Gypt, or Egyptian, the monks would have had as much chance of obtaining alms from the rocks around me, as of opening my heart or understanding to their appeal.

Ahmulah, ahmulah !” cried two or three of the women, and I then found out that I must bestow in charity a salt piece, the name of which had already become familiar to me.

Walderheros soon came back from the errand I had sent him upon, to procure the bulky coin, which was, however, refused by the surly monks, with a look and grimace that said quite enough, as they duly measured the ahmulah with a span, and found that it was too short for their taste. Again Walderheros was sent to the skin bag in which was deposited the remainder of my last change for a dollar. The cunning fellow, however, instead of procuring another, as he told me afterwards, brought back the same ahmulah again, and as the monks did not think it decent to return it a second time, they growled out the usual blessing of peace and good fortune for me, with an imprecating curse for the benefit of Walderheros, and then walked away.

CHAPTER VII.

Residence in Aliu Amba.-Settlement with the Hy Soumaulee.

Proceed to Ankobar.-Obtain the requisite sum.-Relapse of intermittent fever.-Occupation.—Geographical information.Course of the Gibbee.--Character of table land of Abyssinia.

June 18th.-I had now been three days in Aliu Amba, and had begun to be familiar with the circumstances around me, when the presence of several of my Hy Soumaulee friends recalled the promise I had made to them, and rendered it again necessary to undertake the toilsome ascent to Ankobar. My Dongola acquaintance, Hadjji Abdullah, lent me his mule, and off I started, leaving the Hy Soumaulee, who accompanied me across the marketplace, to amuse themselves how they could during my absence. Walderheros walked by my side, and by nine o'clock we arrived at the Residency where a little flag, displayed, telegraphed the presence of the Ambassador, Captain Harris, who had come into town the night before from Angolahlah. I was compelled to solicit, as a personal favour, that which was denied as an act of justice; on the strong representation that “ these thirty dollars would be the price of my blood,” our singularly

100

REQUEST COMPLIED WITH.

constituted Ambassador reluctantly consented to advance me that sum from the treasury. Let it be observed, that not one word of approbation was bestowed upon the endeavours I had made to obtain the restoration of the boxes, &c., left by Messrs. Bernatz and Scott at Hiero Murroo; and when I alluded to that circumstance, the reply I received was, “ that any other party coming up would have brought them on.” The irritation and excitement consequent upon this interview aided the predisposition to a relapse, and to that I principally attribute the long illness which, from this date, afflicted me for many months.

My request, however, in the end being acceded to, after breakfast I prepared to return immediately to Aliu Amba. Mr. Assistant-Surgeon Kirk brought me a polite invitation from Captain Harris to remain at least for the day. Being the anniversary of Waterloo, some appropriate entertainment was proposed, but as I received the message in no very friendly spirit it was not repeated.

Of the thirty Hy Soumaulee engaged at Herhowlee, only seventeen came to receive their additional dollars, the remainder having left Channo with a Kafilah that started before my first return to Aliu Amba. The Ras had engaged them to accompany him across the disturbed country between the Hawash and Hiero Murroo, and after this party had received the dollar and tobe from Ohmed Mahomed, believing they should obtain no more, they had

« 上一頁繼續 »