Page:Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile - In the Years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, and 1773 volume 1.djvu/431

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

before an old man and a boy came down to us. As they had no arms, I went ashore, and bought a skin of water. The old man had a very thievish appearance, was quite naked, and laughed or smiled at every word he said. He spoke Arabic, but very badly; told me there was great plenty of every thing in the country whither he would carry me. He said, moreover, that there was a king there, and a people that loved strangers.

The murder of the boat's crew of the Elgin East-Indiaman, in that very spot where he was then sitting and praising his countrymen, came presently into my mind. I found my hand involuntarily take hold of my pistol, and I was, for the only time in my life, strongly tempted to commit murder. I thought I saw in the looks of that old vagrant, one of those who had butchered so many Englishmen in cold blood.

From his readiness to come down, and being so near the place, it was next to impossible that he was not one of the party. A little reflection, however, saved his life; and I asked him if he could sell us a sheep, when he said they were coming. These words put me on my guard, as I did not know how many people might accompany them. I therefore desired him to bring me the water to the boat, which the boy accordingly did, and we paid him, in cohol, or stibium, to his wishes.

Immediately upon this I ordered them to put the boat afloat, demanding, all the time, where were the sheep? A few minutes afterwards, four stout young men came down, dragging after them two lean goats, which the old man