Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/709

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ENTERTAINING VARIETIES.

brought them to a full stop. The Khundi chieftain, however, received them hospitably, and, being on trading terms with the Gallas, offered to mediate the ransom of the merchants. Pending these negotiations, the Tripolitan commander had to go into camp, and now and then led a hunting expedition to the western Sierras, while the doctor tried to requite the hospitality of the Fants by nursing the sick of the chieftain's household. His success gradually extended his practice to a rather undesired degree, since the messengers from the highland settlements kept him nearly all day in the saddle; but during one of these trips Dr. Sheytan crossed the main ridge of the Moon Mountains, and in the ultramontane valleys discovered such a remarkable race of autochthones that he considered the Khundi-town delay the luckiest accident of his life.

The Monakees, or inhabitants of the western Moon Mountains, appear to be unlike any other race of the known world. In mechanical arts advanced far beyond their neighbors, they are at the same time addicted to most preposterous habits and superstitions. With the aid of an interpreter, and his knowledge of the Fant-Arabian dialects, the Hakim interviewed their priests and medicine-men, inspected their dwellings, caves, and temples, and visited many of their outlying villages, and continued his investigations even after his official duties had recalled him to Khundabad. For the Khundi chieftain, in the mean while, had ascertained the whereabouts of the captive traders, and finally effected their release, and after the end of the next rainy season the Tripolitans returned to Darfoor, where the Hakim took charge of the sick, and employed his leisure in writing the chronicle of his discovery. This chronicle, addressed to his kinsman, the mollah of Tripoli, gives a circumstantial description of the Monakee race, their habits, physical peculiarities, and singular superstitions—interpersed with an account of his personal adventures and of the reflections which occurred to him while traveling through their country. "The work abounds with incidents and graphic descriptions," says the reviewer of the first German translation, "as well as with scientific disclosures that throw a suggestive light on the origin of the customs and vices of civilized life." Besides his first professional trips across the frontier, the Hakim seems to have spent nearly eight months among the Monakees, collecting information on all possible topics, interviewing the just and watching the wicked, traveling from village to village, often at the risk of his life, but always sustained by the conviction that "Allah had appointed him to perform this work," and the hope that the world would recognize its importance.

The result has fully justified that hope. Even the first rumor of the discovery created a general sensation at Tunis, and was repeatedly discussed during the October sessions of the Vienna Geographical Society, though it was not yet positively known that the explorer had crossed the western frontier of Khun-Fandistan; but the controversies