Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile: in the Years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, and 1773/Volume 4/Bk8Ch10
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500 TRAVELS TO DISCOVER
Journey from Sennaar to Chendi
AFTER leaving Sennaar I was overtaken on the road by a black slave, who at first gave me some apprehension, as I was alone with only one Barbarian, a Nubian servant, by the side of my camel, and was going slowly. Upon inquiry I found him to be sent from Hagi Belal, with a basket containing some green tea and sugar, and four bottles of rack, in return for my letter. I sent back the messenger, and gave the care of the basket to my own servant; and, about ten o'clock in the evening of the 5th of September, we all met together joyfully at Soliman.
Before my departure from Sennaar I had prevailed on a Fakir, or Mahometan monk, servant to Adelan, to write a letter to his master, unknown to any other person whatever, to let him know my apprehensions of the king, and that, in the uncertainty how far his occupations might oblige him to move from Shaddly, my way was directly for Herbagi, and requesting that he would give me such recommendations to Wed Ageeb as should put me in safety from the king's persecution, and insure me protection and good reception in Atbara. I begged him, in the most serious manner, to confider, however lightly he had thought of the king of Abyssinia's recommendatory letters, he would not treat those of the regency of Cairo, and of the sherriffe of Mecca, in the fame manner; that my nation was highly respected in both places; and that it was known, by letters written from Sennaar, that I actually was arrived there; that they should take care therefore, and not by ill-usage of me expose their merchants, either at Mecca or Cairo, to a severe retaliation that would immediately follow the receiving bad news of me, or no news at all. My faithful Soliman, who was now to leave me, was charged to carry the answers they should choose to return to the letters I thought from Abyssinia, and I sent him that very night, together with the Fakir, to Adelanat Shadelly, fully instructed with every particular of ill-usage I had received from the King, of which he had been an eye-witness.
Although my servants, as well as Hagi Belal, and every one at Sennaar but the Fakir and Soliman, did imagine I was going to Shadelly, yet their own fears, or rather good fears, had convinced them that it was better to proceed at once for Atbara than ever again to be entangled between Adelan and the king. Sennaar sat heavy upon all their spirits, so that I had scarce dismounted from my camel,
to Sittina his sister, to whom this country belongs, was then with them, so we did not fear them, otherwise there is not a worse set of fanatical wretches, or greater enemies to the name of Christian, than these are.
As we are here speaking of Arabs and their names, I shall once for all observe, that Wed, a word which I have frequently made use of in the course of this history, and which in this sense is peculiar to the kingdom of Sennaar, does not mean river, though that is its import in Arabic. Here it is an abbreviation of Welled, peculiar to the inhabitants of this part of Atbara, who seem to have an aversion to the letter l; Wed el Faal, the son of Faal; Wed Hydar, the son of Hydar, or the lion; Wed Hassan, the son of Hassan, and so of the rest. For the same reason, Melek Sennaar, the king of Sennaar, called Mek by throwing out the l; Abd el Mek, the slave of the king, instead of Abd el Melek. Here also I had the pleasure to find the language of the Koran that of the whole people in common conversation; and as this was the book in which I first studied the Arabic, I found now a propriety and facility of expression I had not been sensible of before; for that of the Koran, in Arabia, is a kind of dead language, rarely understood but by men of learning.
At Wed Baal a Nagga there is a ferry for those who go to Dongola by the desert of Bahiouda, Derreira is the landing-place on the other side; I suppose it is to avoid these Jaheleen that caravans ferry over at Gerri rather than come so low as Wed Baal a Nagga. We left Maia at half past three in the afternoon, and, after going three miles, we came to Gooz, a small village on our left, where we found plenty of good food for our camels. At six we alighted at Fakari. Chendi was now five miles east of us, where we arrived at eight o'clock in the morning of the 4th of October.