Page:A voyage to Abyssinia (Salt).djvu/104

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96
EXCURSION TO LAHADJ.

who had joined us during the march, stopped to shelter during the heat of the mid-day; and to refresh us, the Dola ordered a repast consisting of broiled fish and a mixture of juwarry meal, to be prepared with hot ghee; of which chiefs, masters, soldiers and servants partook in a truly Arabic and primitive style, forming altogether a scene which would probably not have been very well suited to the fastidious delicacy of some European stomachs. After this refreshment every one as usual took a nap, and, on awaking, those who could afford it regaled themselves with a pipe; the accustomed antidote in use among the Arabs, to alleviate all their cares.

At three, we re-commenced our journey. About half a mile from the tomb we entered a deep wood of large and spreading trees, of a species of mimosa, called by the Arabs Sa-muk. This wood extends about eight miles across, and is said to occupy two days march in length, lying in an east and west direction. Numbers of goats and camels are seen in every quarter wandering about it, which, at this season of the year, are chiefly fed on the leaves and tender branches of the trees. From the flesh and milk of these animals, whole tribes of Bedewee derive their subsistence.

The road leading out of the wood opens upon a barren plain, covered with hillocks composed of a fine loose sand, which, constantly drifting from place to place, presents the growth of a single blade of vegetation. This desolate scene, though only five miles across, conveyed to my mind a much stronger image of "a desert that might be fatal to man and beast," than any I had before passed. When we had crossed it, the return to the gradual appearance of verdure was peculiarly grateful to the eye, and soon afterwards we reached a highly rich and cultivated track of land, bordering on the town of Lahadj. Here we found wheat, juwarry and cotton flourishing with great luxuriance, the ground being intersected by artificial dykes, supplied with water by means of those simple machines common throughout Arabia and Egypt. The whole country, besides, was interspersed with date trees.

As we approached the town of Lahadj, we were met by a deputation, headed by the Dola of the place, who