Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/711

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691
ENTERTAINING VARIETIES.

9th-16th), when the last messenger departed from our camp at Khundabad.

After the recovery of his imam, Sheik Kedar (the Khundi chieftain) treated me with great kindness, and urged me to remove my tent to his cottage-yard; but I had set my heart on visiting the towns of the Monakees, and the plan moved my soul night and day, especially when the Fanti traders gave me to understand that the emir was anxious to see me, and was going to send me a guide and a traveling present. Our commander considered that report as an idle rumor, but on the last day of the Alms-week our doubts were removed by the arrival of a messenger with a grace-firman (safe-conduct) of the Monghistan emir, whose son had been stricken with a sore disease, and who (supposing that I had entered the service of the Fants) besought the sheik to grant me a leave of absence. My departure was then decided upon. The messenger returned to announce the shiek's consent, and, three days after, the pasha intrusted me to our old guide Abbad, surnamed El Karman ("the Maimed," from the loss of three of his fingers), and we ascended the mountains, by way of the North Pass, where a month ago my companions had captured the strange baboon I sent you with the cargo of the Tunisian traders.

But the weather was now much drier, and I urged the Karman to speed our march, for my soul had grown restless with wondering expectation. All reports presaged a land of marvels. The texture of the Monakee garments was said to be superior to the best linen of Soodan, and from the excellence of their weapons the Monakees were dreaded as foes, though not loved as allies. Far stranger than all the rumors about the marvels of their country were the doubts about the humanity[1] of their race. The perfection of their manufactures inclined some to credit them with superhuman skill, while others argued that their habits and appearance proved them to be an inferior variety of monkeys. My own opinion I shall give by-and-by. Of their skill in textile fabrics I had a proof when the Karman showed me a pair of foot-sacks (calcetes, probably a sort of woven gaiters), gay-colored and of great strength, and cheap withal, though not to the weavers; for my guide told me that such goods are manufactured in houses where the air is thick with dust, and where scores of the young Monakees are killed with overwork.

People who treat their own children so unkindly can not be expected to show much mercy to their enemies, and I did not wonder when we passed a field where human bones were bleaching in large heaps—the monuments of a battle in which the Monakees had slain twenty thousand of their neighbors. Still I thought that the cause of the war

  1. "Menschlichkeit," W.—Cristianismo, says Dr. Reidor, probably from an inadvertent confusion of correlative terms. Even in the language of our country-people the two words are sometimes used as interchangeable synonyms, as in the phrase, "He takes his grog just like a Christian"—in referring to the accomplishments of a trained monkey.