Page:Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile - In the Years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, and 1773 volume 2.djvu/164

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variety of species, which they had never before seen, added greatly to the fatigue which the thickness of the woods had occasioned. Mountains presented themselves over mountains, broken into terrible precipices and ravines, by violent torrents and constant storms; their black and bare tops, seemed as it were calcined by the rays of a burning sun, and by incessant lightnings and thunder. Great numbers of wild beasts also presented themselves everywhere in these dark forests, and seemed only to be hindered from devouring them by their wonder at seeing so many men in so lonely a situation. At last the woods began to grow thinner, and some fields appeared where the people were sitting armed, guarding their small flocks of half-starved goats and kine, and crops of millet, of which they saw a considerable quantity sown. The men were black, their hair very gracefully plaited, and were altogether naked, excepting a small piece of leather that covered their middle. At this place they were met by twelve monks, four of whom were distinguished by their advanced years and the respect paid to them by the others.

Having rested their mules and camels a short time, they again began their journey by the side of a great lake, near which was a very high mountain, and this they were too weary to attempt to pass. Full of discontent and despondency, they halted at the foot of this mountain, where they palled the night, having received a cow for supper, a present from the convent. Here Matthew (the ambassador) separated his baggage from that of the caravan, and left it to the care of the monks. He had probably made some little money in Portugal; and, distrusting his reception with the king, wisely determined to place it out of danger. The pre-