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Samuel White Baker

All were thankful that the river voyage was concluded; the tedium of the White Nile will have been participated by the reader, upon whom I have inflicted the journal, as no other method of description could possibly convey an idea of the general desolation.

The various trading parties were assembled in Gondokoro with a total of about three thousand slaves; but there was consternation depicted upon every countenance. Only three boats had arrived from Khartoum - one diahbiah and two noggurs - these belonged to Koorshid Aga. The resume of news from Khartoum was as follows: -

A DAY before the departure of Speke and Grant from Gondokoro, an event occurred which appeared as a bad omen to the superstitions of my men. I had ordered the diahbiah to be prepared for sailing: thus, the cargo having been landed and the boat cleared and washed, we were sitting in the cabin, when a sudden explosion close to the windows startled us from our seats, and the consternation of a crowd of men who were on the bank, showed that some accident had happened.

We continued our voyage down the Nile, at times scudding along with a fair wind and stream, when a straight portion of the river allowed our men respite from the oars. This was the termination of the dry season, in this latitude 7 degrees (end of March); - thus, although the river was nearly level with the banks, the marshes were tolerably firm, and in the dryer portions the reeds had been burnt off by the natives. In one of these cleared places we descried a vast herd of antelopes, numbering several thousands.

THE country was park-like, but much parched by the dry weather. The ground was sandy, but firm, and interspersed with numerous villages, all of which were surrounded with a strong fence of euphorbia. The country was well wooded, being free from bush or jungle, but numerous trees, all evergreens, were scattered over the landscape. No natives were to be seen, but the sound of their drums and singing in chorus was heard in the far distance.


ALTHOUGH Ellyria was a rich and powerful country, we had not been able to procure any provisions - the natives refused to sell, and their general behaviour was such that assured me of their capability of any atrocity had they been prompted to attack us by the Turks. Fortunately we had a good supply of meal that had been prepared for the journey prior to our departure from Gondokoro: thus we could not starve. I also had a sack of corn for the animals, a necessary precaution, as at this season there was not a blade of grass; all in the vicinity of the route having been burnt.

Drums were beating, horns blowing, and people were seen all running in one direction; - the cause was a funeral dance, and I joined the crowd, and soon found myself in the midst of the entertainment. The dancers were most grotesquely got up.

The country in the immediate neighbourhood of Latooka was parched, as there had been no rain for some time. The latitude was 4 degrees 35', longitude 32 degrees 55' E.; the rains had commenced in February on the mountains on the south side of the valley, about eighteen miles distant. Every day there was an appearance of a storm; the dark clouds gathered ominously around the peak of the Gebel Lafeet above the town, but they were invariably attracted by the higher range on the opposite and south side of the valley, where they daily expended themselves at about 3 P.M.

Ibrahim returned from Gondokoro, bringing with him a large supply of ammunition. A wounded man of Chenooda's people also arrived, the sole relic of the fight with the Latookas; he had been left for dead, but had recovered, and for days and nights he had wandered about the country, in thirst and hunger, hiding like a wild beast from the sight of human beings, his guilty conscience marking every Latooka as an enemy.

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