At the village of Souha, Park begged a handful of grain of a "dooty," who answered that he had nothing to give away.
"Whilst I was examining the face of this inhospitable old man, and endeavouring to find out the cause of the sullen discontent which was visible in his eye, he called to a slave who was working in the corn-field at a little distance, and ordered him to bring his spade with him. The Dooty then told him to dig a hole in the ground, pointing to a spot at no great distance. The slave with his spade began to dig in the earth, and the Dooty, who appeared to be a man of very fretful disposition, kept muttering to himself until the pit was almost finished, when he repeatedly pronounced the word ankatod (good for nothing), jankra lemen (a regular plague), which expressions I thought applied to myself. As the pit had very much the appearance of a grave, I thought it prudent to mount my horse, and was about to decamp when the slave, who had gone before to the village, returned with the corpse of a boy about nine or ten years of age, quite naked. The negro carried the body by an arm and leg, and threw it into the pit with a savage indifference such as I had never seen. As he covered the body with earth, the Dooty kept repeating naphula attemata (money lost), whence I concluded the boy had been his slave."
Mungo Park left Koulikorro, where he had obtained food by writing saphics or talismans for the natives, upon the 21st of August, and reached Bammakoa, where a large salt-market is held. From an eminence near the town he perceived a high mountain range in the kingdom of Kong, whose ruler had a more numerous army than the King of Bambara.
Once more robbed by brigands of all he possessed, the unfortunate traveller found himself, in the rainy season, alone in a vast desert, five leagues from the nearest European settlement, and for the moment gave way to despair. But his courage soon revived; and reaching the town of Sibidoulou, his horse and clothes, which had been stolen from him by Foulah robbers, were restored to him by the mansa, or chief. Kamalia, or Karfa Taura advised him to await the cessation of the rainy season, and then to proceed to Gambia with a caravan of slaves. Worn out, destitute, attacked by fever, which for five months kept him prostrate, Mungo Park had no choice but to remain in this place.
Upon the 19th of April the caravan set out. We can readily imagine the joy experienced by Mungo Park when all was ready. Crossing the desert of Jallonka, and passing first the principal branch of the Senegal river, and then the Falemé, the caravan finally reached the shores of the Gambia, and on the 12th of June, 1797, Mungo Park once more arrived at Pisania, where he was warmly welcomed by Dr. Laidley, who had despaired of ever seeing him again.
The traveller returned to England upon the 22nd of September. So great was the impatience with which an account of his discoveries, certainly the most important in this part of Africa, was awaited, that the African Society allowed him to publish for his own profit an abridged account of his adventures.
He had collected more facts as to the geography, manners, and customs of the country than all preceding travellers; he had determined the position of the sources of the Senegal and Gambia, and surveyed the course of the Niger or Djoliba—which he proved to run eastwards, whilst the Gambia flowed to the west.
Thus a point, which up to this time had been disputed by geographers, was definitely settled. It was no longer possible to confound the three rivers, as the French geographer Delisle had done, in 1707, when he represented the Niger as running eastward from Bornu, and flowing into the river Senegal on the west. He himself, however, had admitted and corrected this error, in his later maps of 1722 and 1727, no doubt on account of the facts ascertained by André Brue, governor of Senegal.
Houghton, indeed, had learned much from the natives of the course of the Niger through the Mandingo country, and of the relative positions of Sego, Djennéh, and Timbuctoo; but it was reserved for Mungo Park to fix positively, from personal knowledge, the position of the two first-named towns, and to furnish circumstantial details of the country, and the tribes who inhabit it.
Public opinion was unanimous as to the importance of the great traveller's exploration, and keenly appreciative of the courage, skill, and honesty exhibited by him.
A short time later, the English government offered Mungo Park the conduct of an expedition to the interior of Australia; but he refused it.
In 1804, however, the African Society determined to complete the survey of the Niger, and proposed to Mungo Park the command of a new expedition for its exploration. This time the great traveller did not refuse, and upon the 30th of January, 1805, he left England. Two months later he landed at Goree.
He was accompanied by his brother-in-law, Anderson, a surgeon, by George Scott, a draughtsman, and by thirty-five artillery-men. He was authorized to enrol as many soldiers as he liked in his service, and was provided with a credit of five hundred pounds.