THE EXPLORATION AND COLONIZATION OF AFRICA, II
This was a check to Clapperton's further inquiries. On every side he was met with embarrassed silence or such replies as, "The affair happened so long ago, I can't remember it," or, "I was not witness to it." The place where the boat had been stopped and its crew drowned was pointed out to him, but even that was done cautiously. A few days later, Clapperton found out that the former Imaun, who was a Fellatah, had had Mungo Park's books and papers in his possession. Unfortunately, however, this Imaun had long since left Boussa. Finally, when at Coulfo, the explorer ascertained beyond a doubt that Mungo Park had been murdered.
Before leaving Borghoo, Clapperton recorded his conviction of the baselessness of the bad reputation of the inhabitants, who had been branded everywhere as thieves and robbers. He had completely explored their country, travelled and hunted amongst them alone, and never had the slightest reason to complain.
The traveller now endeavoured to reach Kano by way of Zouari and Zegzeg, first crossing the Quorra. He soon arrived at Fabra, on the Mayarrow, the residence of the queen-mother of Nyffé, and then went to visit the king, in camp at a short distance from the town. This king, Clapperton tells us, was the most insolent rogue imaginable, asking for everything he saw, and quite unabashed by any refusal. His ambition and his calling in of the Fellatahs, who would throw him over as soon as he had answered their purpose, had been the ruin of his country. Thanks indeed to him, nearly the whole of the industrial population of Nyffé had been killed, sold into slavery, or had fled the country.
Clapperton was detained by illness much longer than he had intended to remain at Coulfo, a commercial town on the northern banks of the Mayarrow containing from twelve to fifteen thousand inhabitants. Exposed for the last twenty years to the raids of the Fellatahs, Coulfo had been burnt twice in six years. Clapperton was witness when there of the Feast of the New Moon. On that festival every one exchanged visits. The women wear their woolly hair plaited and stained with indigo. Their eyebrows are dyed the same colour. Their eyelids are painted with kohl, their lips are stained yellow, their teeth red, and their hands and feet are coloured with henna. On the day of the Feast of the Moon they don their gayest garments, with their glass beads, bracelets, copper, silver, steel, or brass. They also turn the occasion to account by drinking as much bouza as the men, joining in all their songs and dances.
After passing through Katunga, Clapperton entered the province of Gouari, the people of which though conquered with the rest of Houssa by the Fellatahs, had rebelled against them on the death of Bello I., and since then maintained their independence in spite of all the efforts of their invaders. Gouari, capital of the province of the same name, is situated in lat. 10° 54' N., and long. 8° 1' E.
At Fatika Clapperton entered Zegzeg, subject to the Fellatahs, after which he visited Zariyah, a singular-looking town laid out with plantations of millet, woods of bushy trees, vegetable gardens, &c., alternating with marshes, lawns, and houses. The population was very numerous, exceeding even that of Kano, being estimated indeed at some forty or fifty thousand, nearly all Fellatahs.
On the 19th September, after a long and weary journey, Clapperton at last entered Kano. He at once discovered that he would have been more welcome if he had come from the east, for the war with Bornou had broken off all communication with Fezzan and Tripoli. Leaving his luggage under the care of his servant Lander, Clapperton almost immediately started in quest of Sultan Bello, who they said was near Sackatoo. This was an extremely arduous journey, and on it Clapperton lost his camels and horses, and was compelled to put up with a miserable ox; to carry part of his baggage, he and his servants dividing the rest amongst them.
Bello received Clapperton kindly and sent him camels and provisions, but as he was then engaged in subjugating the rebellious province of Gouber, he could not at once give the explorer the personal audience so important to the many interests entrusted by the English Government to Clapperton.
Bello advanced to the attack of Counia, the capital of Gouber, at the head of an army of 60,000 soldiers, nine-tenths of whom were on foot and wore padded armour. The struggle was contemptible in the extreme, and this abortive attempt closed the war. Clapperton, whose health was completely broken up, managed to make his way from Sackatoo to Magaria, where he saw the sultan.
After he had received the presents brought for him, Bello became less friendly. He presently pretended to have received a letter from Sheikh El Khanemy warning him against the traveller, whom his correspondent characterized as a spy, and urging him to defy the English, who meant, after finding out all about the country, to settle in it, raise up sedition and profit by the disturbances they should create to take possession of Houssa, as they had done of India.
The most patent of all the motives of Bello in creating difficulties for Clapperton was his wish to appropriate the presents intended for the Sultan of Bornou. A pretext being necessary, he spread a rumour that the traveller was taking cannons and ammunition to Kouka. It was out of all reason Bello should allow a stranger to cross his dominions with a view to enabling his implacable enemy to make war upon him. Finally, Bello made an effort to induce Clapperton to read to him the letter of Lord Bathurst to the Sultan of Bornou.