Second Rainy Season ends - Scarcity and Dearness of Provisions - Meshisha and Comfou plot their Escape - They succeed - Theodore is robbed - Damash pursues the Fugitives - The Night Attack - The Galla War-cry and the "Sauve qui peut"...

Another Maskal (Feast of the Cross) had gone by and September ushered in fine, pleasant weather. No important change had taken place in our daily life: it was the same routine over again; only we were beginning to be very anxious about the long delay of our messengers from the coast, as our money was running short: indeed, we had hardly any left, and every necessary of life had risen to fabulous prices. Five oblong pieces of salt were now given in exchange for a Maria Theresa dollar, whilst formerly, at Magdala, during their first captivity, our companions had often got as much as thirty, never less than fifteen or eighteen. Though the value of the salt had so greatly increased, the articles purchased with it had not followed the same proportion, they were, on the contrary, lowered in amount and quality. When the salts were abundant we could buy four old fowls for a salt; now that they were scarce, we could only buy two; and everything in the same ratio; consequently all our expenses had risen 200 per cent. Supplies. in the market were also getting very scarce; and often we could not purchase grain for our Abyssinian servants. The soldiers on the mountain suffered greatly from this scarcity and high prices; they were continually begging, and many, no doubt, were saved from starvation by the generosity of those they kept prisoners. Very fortunately, I had put aside a small sum of money in case of accident, otherwise I believe the Abyssinian difficulty would have been at an end, so far as we were concerned. I kept a little for myself, and handed the rest over to Mr. Rassam, as he usually supplied us with money from the sums forwarded to him by the agent at Massowah. We dismissed as many servants as we possibly could, reduced our expenses to a minimum, and sent messengers after messengers to the coast to bring us up as much money as they could. At that time, if we had fortunately been provided with a large sum of ready cash, I do really believe that we might have bought the mountain; so discouraged and mutinous were the soldiers of the garrison at the long privations and semi-starvation they were enduring for a master of whom they had no reliable information. The agent at the coast did his best. Hosts of messengers had been despatched, but the condition of the country was such that they had to bury the money they were carrying in the house of a friend at Adowa, and abide there for several months, until they could, with great prudence and by travelling only at night, venture to pass through districts infested with thieves, and a prey to the greatest anarchy.