THE EXPLORATION AND COLONIZATION OF AFRICA, II
Clapperton told him he could take it if he liked, but that he would not give it to him, adding that everything was of course possible to him, as he had force on his side, but that he would bring dishonour upon himself by using it. "To open the letter myself," said Clapperton, "is more than my head is worth." He had come, he urged, bringing Bello a letter and presents from the King of England, relying upon the confidence inspired by the sultan's letter of the previous year, and he hoped his host would not forfeit that confidence by tampering with another person's letter.
On this the sultan made a gesture of dismissal, and Clapperton retired.
This was not, however, the last attempt of a similar kind, and things grew much worse later. A few days afterwards another messenger was sent to demand the presents reserved for El Khanemy, and on Clapperton's refusing to give them up, they were taken from him.
"I told the Gadado," says Clapperton, "that they were acting like robbers towards me, in defiance of all good faith: that no people in the world would act the same, and they had far better have cut my head off than done such an act; but I suppose they would do that also when they had taken everything from me."
An attempt was now made to obtain his arms and ammunition, but this he resisted sturdily. His terrified servants ran away, but soon returned to share the dangers of their master, for whom they entertained the warmest affection.
At this critical moment, the entries in Clapperton's journal ceased. He had now been six months in Sackatoo, without being able to undertake any explorations or to bring to a satisfactory conclusion the mission which had brought him from the coast. Sick at heart, weary, and ill, he could take no rest, and his illness suddenly increased upon him to an alarming degree. His servant, Richard Lander, who had now joined him, tried in vain to be all things at once. On the 12th March, 1827, Clapperton was seized with dysentery. Nothing could check the progress of the malady, and he sank rapidly. It being the time of the feast of the Rhamadan, Lander could get no help, not even servants. Fever soon set in, and after twenty days of great suffering, Clapperton, feeling his end approaching, gave his last instructions to Lander, and died in that faithful servant's arms, on the 11th of April.
"I put a large clean mat," says Lander, "over the whole [the corpse], and sent a messenger to Sultan Bello, to acquaint him with the mournful event, and ask his permission to bury the body after the manner of my own country, and also to know in what particular place his remains were to be interred. The messenger soon returned with the sultan's consent to the former part of my request; and about twelve o'clock at noon of the same day a person came into my hut, accompanied by four slaves, sent by Bello to dig the grave. I was desired to follow them with the corpse. Accordingly I saddled my camel, and putting the body on its back, and throwing a union jack over it, I bade them proceed. Travelling at a slow pace, we halted at Jungavie, a small village, built on a rising ground, about five miles to the south-east of Sackatoo. The body was then taken from the camel's back, and placed in a shed, whilst the slaves were digging the grave; which being quickly done, it was conveyed close to it. I then opened a prayer-book, and, amid showers of tears, read the funeral service over the remains of my valued master. Not a single person listened to this peculiarly distressing ceremony, the slaves being at some distance, quarrelling and making a most indecent noise the whole time it lasted. This being done, the union jack was then taken off, and the body was slowly lowered into the earth, and I wept bitterly as I gazed for the last time upon all that remained of my generous and intrepid master."
|"Travelling at a slow pace."|
Overcome by heat, fatigue, and grief, poor Lander himself now broke down, and for more than ten days was unable to leave his hut.
Bello sent several times to inquire after the unfortunate servant's health, but he was not deceived by these demonstrations of interest, for he knew they were only dictated by a wish to get possession of the traveller's baggage, which was supposed to be full of gold and silver. The sultan's astonishment may therefore be imagined when it came out that Lander had not even money enough to defray the expenses of his journey to the coast. He never found out that the servant had taken the precaution of hiding his own gold watch and those of Pearce and Clapperton about his person.
Lander saw that he must at any cost get back to the coast as quickly as possible. By dint of the judicious distribution of a few presents he won over some of the sultan's advisers, who represented to their master that should Lander die he would be accused of having murdered him as well as Clapperton. Although Clapperton had advised Lander to join an Arab caravan for Fezzan, the latter, fearing that his papers and journals might be taken from him, resolved to go back to the coast.