Death of Abouna Salama - Sketch of his Life and Career - Grievances of Theodore against him - His Imprisonment at Magdala - The Wallo Gallas - Their Habits and Customs - Menilek appears with an Army in the Galla Country - His Policy...

On the 25th of October, Abouna Salama (the Bishop of Abyssinia) died after a long and painful illness.

Abouna Salama was in many respects a remarkable man. Two such characters as Theodore and himself are seldom met with at the same time in those distant lands. Both ambitious, both proud, both passionate, it was inevitable that sooner or later they must come into collision, and the stronger crush the weaker.

Abyssinia had been for years without a bishop. Priests could no more be consecrated, nor new churches dedicated to Christian worship, as the ark could not contain the tabot blessed by the bishop of the land. Ras Ali, although outwardly a Christian and belonging to a converted family, had still too many connections amongst the Mussulman Gallas, his true friends and supporters, to care for more than an apparent profession of the State religion, and troubled himself very little about the inconvenience to which the priesthood was subjected by the long-continued vacancy of the bishopric.

Dejatch Oubie was at that time the semi-independent ruler of Tigre. From the position of a simple governor he had gradually risen to power, and now at the head of a large army strove for the title of Ras. Though still on apparent terms of friendship with Ras Ali, even to a certain degree acknowledging him as his superior, he was all the while secretly exerting his influence to overthrow the Ras's power in order to reign in his stead. For these reasons he despatched some of his chiefs, with Monsignor de Jacobis, an Italian nobleman and Roman Catholic bishop at Massowah, to Egypt, to obtain a bishop for the Abyssinian see; [Footnote: According to the rules of the Abyssinian Church, the bishop must be a Coptic priest ordained at Cairo. The expenses required for the consecration of a bishop amount to about 10,000 dollars] and in order to secure for himself such a powerful weapon as the support of the priesthood, he incurred the heavy expense required for the consecration of an Abouna. De Jacobis made strenuous efforts to have a bishop anointed who would favour the Roman Catholics; but he failed, as the Patriarch chose for that dignity a young man who had received part of his education at an English school at Cairo, and whose views were more in favour of Protestantism than of the Copt's long-standing adversary, the Church of Rome.

Andraos, this young priest, was only in his twentieth year. When informed that he must leave his monastery and the companionship of the monks his friends to proceed to the distant and semi-civilized land of Habesch, he firmly declined the honour proposed for him. He requested his superiors to fix their choice on a worthier man, declaring himself unfit for the dignity so suddenly thrust upon him. His objections were not admitted, and as he still persisted in his refusal, the superior of the convent put him in irons; wherein he should remain, he was told, until he agreed to obey the head of the Coptic Church. Andraos gave in; and having been duly anointed and consecrated Bishop of Abyssinia, under the title of Abouna Salama, with all the pomps and ceremonies proper to the occasion, started shortly afterwards in an English man-of-war, reaching Massowah in the beginning of 1841.

Dejatch Oubie received him with great honours; added numerous villages and large districts to those the hereditary possession of the bishops, and made every endeavour to attach him to his cause. He succeeded even beyond his expectations. Abouna Salama, instead of needing the persuasions of Oubie to join him in the overthrow of Ras Ali, proposed the attempt. Through his influence Oubie concluded an alliance with Goscho Beru, the ruler of Godjam. The two chiefs agreed to march on Debra Tabor, attack Ras Ali, wrest from him the power he had usurped, and divide the government of Abyssinia, confirming the Bishop's alleged rights to a third of the revenue of the land.

Oubie and Goscho Beru kept to their engagements, offered battle to Ras Ali near Debra Tabor, and utterly routed his army; Ras Ali with difficulty escaping from the field with a small body of well-mounted followers. It so happened, however, that Oubie celebrated his success in potations too many and deep. Some of the fugitive soldiers of Ras Ali accidentally entered Oubie's tent, found their master's conqueror in the condition known as dead drunk, and availed themselves of his helpless condition to make him their prisoner. This sudden contretemps changed the aspect of affairs. Certain well-mounted horsemen galloped after Ras Ali and succeeded in overtaking him towards evening. He would not at first believe in his good fortune; but others of his soldiers arriving and confirming the glad tidings, he returned to Debra Tabor, reunited his scattered followers, and was able to dictate terms to his captive conqueror. Oubie was pardoned and allowed to return to Tigre, the Bishop being answerable for his fidelity. Ras Ali treated the Bishop with all respect, fell at his feet and implored him not to listen to the calumnies of his enemies, assuring him that the Church had no more faithful son than himself, nor any more willing to comply with the holy father's wishes. The Bishop, now on friendly terms with all parties, and all but worshipped by them, soon made his authority felt; and had not Theodore risen from obscurity, Abouna Salama would, no doubt, have been the Hildebrand of Abyssinia.

During the campaigns of Lij Kassa against the ruler of Godjam, and during that period of revolution ending in the overthrow of Ras Ali, Abouna Salama retired to his property in Tigre, residing there in peace under the protection of his friend Oubie. Ever since his arrival in Abyssinia Abouna Salama had shown the bitterest opposition to the Roman Catholics: an enmity not so much engendered by conviction, perhaps, as inflamed by the fact that some of his property had been seized at Jiddah at the instigation of some Roman Catholic priests, who had through his influence been plundered, ill-treated, and expelled from Abyssinia. When the intelligence reached the Abouna that Lij Kassa was marching against Tigre, he publicly excommunicated him, on the ground that Kassa was the friend of the Roman Catholics, protected their Bishop, De Jacobis, and wanted to subvert in favour of the creed of Rome the religion of the land. But Kassa was a match for the Abouna; he denied the charge, and at the same time stated "that if Abouna Salama could excommunicate, Abouna de Jacobis could remove it." The Bishop, alarmed at the influence his enemies might possibly obtain, offered to recall his anathema, on condition that Kassa would expel De Jacobis. These terms having been agreed upon, Abouna Salama shortly afterwards consented to place the crown of Abyssinia on the usurper's head, and did so in the very church Oubie had erected for his own coronation, under the name of Theodore II.

Pleased with the Bishop's compliance, Theodore showed him the utmost respect. He carried his chair, or walked behind him with a lance and shield as if he was nothing but a follower of his, and on all fit occasions fell down to the ground in his presence and respectfully kissed his hand. Abouna Salama for a time believed that his influence over Theodore was unbounded, as it had been over Ras Ali and Oubie; mistook Theodore's show of humility for sincere admiration and devotion; and the more humble Theodore seemed disposed to be, the more arrogant did the Bishop, publicly show himself. But he had not quite understood the character of the Emperor he had anointed; and overrating his own importance, at last he made of Theodore an open and relentless enemy. The crisis came when Abouna Salama least expected it. One day Theodore went in state to pay him his respects. Arrived at the Abouna's tent, he informed him of his visit; the Bishop sent word that he would receive him when convenient, and meanwhile bade him wait without. Theodore complied; but as time passed and the Bishop made no appearance, Theodore walked away, the enemy of his prelate, and burning for revenge.

For years afterwards they lived in open enmity, or enmity slightly masked: each worked hard at the destruction of the other. If Theodore's reign had been a peaceful one, the Abouna would have gained the day; but the Emperor, surrounded as he was by a large army of devoted followers, found ready listeners to his descriptions of the Bishop's character. Abouna Salama was never very popular; he was, without being a miser, far from liberal. Friendship in Abyssinia means presents: it is accepted as such by all; and every chief, every man of note, who courts popularity, lavishes with an unsparing hand. The Emperor naturally took advantage of this want of liberality in the Bishop's character, to contrast it with his own generosity. He insinuated that the Abouna was only a merchant at heart; that instead of selling the tribute he received in kind to the people of the country, as was formerly the custom, he sent it by caravans to Massowah, trafficked with the Turks, and hoarded all his money in Egypt. Little by little Theodore worked on the minds of his people, impressing them with the idea that, after all, the Bishop was only a man like themselves; and, at least in Theodore's camp, he had already lost much of his prestige when the Emperor spread the report that his honour had been assailed by the Bishop whom they all worshipped.

Theodore, when detailing to us his grievances one day on our way to Agau Medar, introduced the subject of his quarrel with the Abouna. He then stated as the reason of his enmity against him that, one day when he was entertaining his officers at a public breakfast, the Bishop, taking advantage of his absence, and under pretence of confessing the Queen, went into her tent. When Theodore returned after the breakfast was over, he presented himself at the door of his wife's apartment, but on being informed that she was engaged in her religious duties with the Abouna he walked away. In the evening he returned again to his wife's tent. When he entered, she flew to him, and sobbing on his neck told him that she had been that day unwillingly unfaithful to him, having been unable to resist the violence of the Bishop. He forgave her, he said, because she was innocent; and as for the suborner of his honour he could not punish him: nothing but death could avenge such a crime, and how could he lay violent hands on a dignitary of the Church? - There is no doubt that the whole was an abominable invention; but Theodore had evidently told the same story over and over again until at last he had come to believe it himself.

Abouna Salama lost reputation, though, perhaps, few people believed the Emperor's assertion. But on the principle that if you throw mud some will stick, the Abouna's character was amongst a certain class fairly gone; and henceforward his friends were only to be found amongst the King's enemies, while his foes were Theodore's bosom friends. In public Theodore still always treated him with respect, though not with such a great show of humility as before; but he evidently, for the sake of his people, made a distinction between the official character of the Abouna, respecting it on account of his Christian faith, and his private one, for which he expressed the greatest scorn.

For a long while the question of the Church lands was a great deal discussed between them. Theodore could not tolerate any power in the State but his own. He had fought hard to be the supreme ruler of Abyssinia; he had done his utmost to bring the Abouna into contempt, and when he thought the occasion favourable to do away entirely with his power and influence, he confiscated all the Church lands and revenues - some of the Bishop's hereditary property by the same stroke - and placed himself virtually at the head of the Church. The Abouna's anger knew no bounds. Naturally of a violent temper, he grossly abused Theodore on every occasion. Some of their quarrels were most unbecoming; the intense hatred burning in the prelate's heart showing itself in expressions that ought never to have fallen from his lips. The Bishop of Abyssinia was never tolerant. I have mentioned that towards Roman Catholics he was most intolerant. He persecuted them at every opportunity, and even when himself a prisoner at Magdala he never sought to obtain the release of an unfortunate Abyssinian who had been years before cast into chains at his instigation, for the sole reason that the man had visited Rome and become a convert there. Towards Protestants he was better inclined; still, he would not hear of "conversions." Missionaries might instruct, but they had to stop there; and when, as it happened, some Jews were led by the teachings of the missionaries to accept Christianity, they had to be baptized and received as members of the Abyssinian Church. He showed himself on all occasions friendly towards Europeans, not Roman Catholics, and in time of trouble proved of good service to the European captives; even helping them with small sums of money at a time of great scarcity and want. But his friendship was dangerous. Theodore distrusted, nay, disliked any one who was on friendly terms with his great enemy; the horrid torture the Europeans suffered at Azzazoo was due entirely to that cause; and the quarrels or reconciliations between Church and State always influenced their and our fate. The Abouna left Azzazoo with the King's camp after the rainy season of 1864.

A serious rebellion had broken out in Shoa, and Theodore, leaving his prisoners, wives and camp-followers at Magdala, made a quick march through the Wallo Galla country; but he found the rebels so strong that he could do nothing against them. He was greatly annoyed at the Bishop's refusal to accompany him. The Shoa people are of all Abyssinians the most bigoted, and have the greatest regard for their Abouna; with him in his camp many of the opposing chiefs would at once have laid down their arms and returned to their allegiance. But the Bishop, who had in view his fertile districts in Tigre, proposed accompanying Theodore first to that province; and after the rebellion had been put down in that part of the kingdom, to proceed with him to Shoa. Their interview on that occasion was very stormy; and Theodore must have had great command over himself to have refrained from extremities. Abouna Salama remained at Magdala, according to his desire; but a prisoner. He was never put in chains; though it is said that Theodore had several times resolve it should be done, and even had the fetters prepared; but he was always restrained by dread of the effect that such a measure might have on his people. The Bishop was allowed to go as far as the church, should he desire it; but at night a small guards always watched outside his house; sometimes even a few of the soldiers passed the night in the Abouna's apartment. Almost all his servants were spies of the King. He could trust no one, except a few of his slaves - young Gallas given to him in former days by Theodore - and a Copt, who, with some priests, had accompanied the Patriarch David on his visit to Abyssinia: some of them had accepted the King's service, whilst others, like the Copt servant I have mentioned, devoted themselves to their compatriot and bishop.

During the former imprisonment of the captives at Magdala, the intercourse between the Bishop and them had been very limited. They never saw each other; but occasionally a young slave of the Bishop's would carry a verbal message, or a short Arabic note containing some piece of news, generally some exaggerated rumours of the rebels' doings (always believed by the too credulous Abouna), or simple inquiries about medicine, &c.

The day of our arrival, and whilst the chiefs were reading Theodore's instructions concerning us, the young slave above mentioned came up to Mr. Rosenthal with kind compliments from the Abouna, to inform us that as far as his master then knew there was nothing bad for the present, but great fears for the future. The Bishop, we knew, had frequent communications with the great rebel chiefs (Theodore was also well aware of the fact, and hated him all the more for it); he had shown himself at all times well disposed towards us, and as he was as anxious as ourselves to escape from the power of Theodore, we deemed it of the highest importance to open communication with him. But the difficulties in the way were enormous. Nothing would have injured our prospects more than the betrayal of our intercourse with the Bishop to the Emperor. Samuel in that respect could not for a long time be trusted; as a deadly enmity existed between himself and the Bishop. It required all the persuasive powers of Mr. Rassam to bring on a good understanding between the two; he, however, managed the affair so skilfully that he not only succeeded, but after mutual explanations, they became affectionate friends. But, until this difficulty had been overcome, great precautions were necessary.

The small slave was soon suspected by our vigilant guards. It would have been dangerous to confide to him anything of importance, for he might at any time be seized and searched. We therefore employed servant-girls, who were known to the Bishop, as they had resided on the mountain with the former captives. The Bishop accepted with eagerness our proposal to escape from the Amba, and, sanguine as he was hasty, at first gave us great hopes; but when we came to the details of his plot, as far as we were concerned, we found it was perfectly ridiculous. He wanted some nitrate of silver in order to blacken his face, so as to pass unperceived through the gates. Once free, he was to join either Menilek or the Wakshum, excommunicate and depose Theodore, and proclaim the rebel emperor in his place. He had evidently forgotten that the days of Oubie and Ras Ali were gone long ago, that the man who held Magdala cared but little for excommunication, and that, deposed or not, Theodore still would virtually be king. The Bishop might have succeeded, perhaps; but had he been caught, or had it ever been known that we were parties to his escape, no power in the world would have saved us from the rage of the infuriated monarch.

After the Bishop's reconciliation with Samuel our relations with him were more frequent and intimate. He was at all times willing to help us to the best of his ability, lent as a few dollars when we were hard pressed for money, wrote to the rebels to protect our messengers, invited them to come to our release, promising to the successful one his support, and, I believe, would even have accepted a reconciliation with the man from whom he had received so many injuries, solely for our sake.

Disappointed in his ambition, deprived of his property, insulted, degraded, without power, without liberty, Abouna Salama succumbed to the too common temptation of men who suffer much. Almost without society, leading a dull misanthropic life, he did not remember that sobriety in all respects was essential to his health and that over-indulgence at table was not consistent with his forced seclusion. Constant annoyances, added to intemperate habits, could but bring on sickness. During our first winter I attended him, through Alaka Zenab, our friend and his, and under my care he recovered. Unfortunately, he only listened to my advice and obeyed my injunctions for a short time; soon missing the stimulants he had for years been accustomed to, he gradually felt the want of their cheering influence, and again resorted to them. During the rainy season of 1867 he had a more serious attack. This time Samuel, being able to visit him at night, was our medium, and being a very intelligent man could give us a correct account of his condition. For a while his health improved; but he was even more unreasonable than formerly: hardly was he convalescent than several times a day he sent to inquire if he could drink some arrack, take a little opium, or indulge in some of his more favourite dishes. It is not astonishing that relapse quickly followed: though I showed him the danger of the course he was pursuing, he persisted in it.

In the beginning of October the Bishop's condition became so critical that he applied to the Ras and chiefs to allow me to visit him. They met in consultation, and in a body repaired to Mr. Rassam, when I was called and asked if I would attend him. I replied that as far as I was concerned I was perfectly willing. The chiefs then retired to consider the matter; and on one of them insinuating that Theodore would not be sorry if his enemy the Abouna died, and that he would be angry if he knew that the Bishop had been brought in contact with the Europeans, they decided on refusing his request; though they consented to the attendance of the cow-doctor. With the Abouna we lost a staunch ally, a good friend; nay, the only one we had in the country. Had a rebel succeeded in making himself master of the Amba his protection would have been invaluable: not that I believe his influence would have been sufficient to ensure our release; but still, with him, we should have met at the hands of any of the great rebel chiefs nothing but good treatment and courteous demeanour.

The messenger sent to convey the tidings of the Abouna's death to the Emperor, was rather puzzled how to express himself, not knowing in what light his Majesty would receive the news. He adopted a middle course as the safest, and tried to appear neither sorry nor rejoiced. Theodore listened to his tale and exclaimed, "Thank God, my enemy is dead!" Then, addressing the messenger, he added, "You fool! why did you not on reaching me shout out 'Miserach' (good tidings)? I would have given you my best mule."

With the death of the Bishop, our hopes, though always of the faintest kind, when natives were expected to be the deliverers, seemed for ever crushed. Wakshum Gobaze had, for a time at least, by his treaty with Mastiate, given up his pretensions to the possession of Magdala; and Menilek, even if he kept to his word and attempted the siege of our amba, would, no doubt, fall back on Shoa as soon as he should be apprised of the death of his friend whom he was so anxious to release. We had no precise information as to the steps that were taken at home for our rescue; and, until certain that troops had landed, we felt very anxious lest some contretemps should, at the last instant, occur, and the expedition be abandoned, or some more or less chimerical plan adopted in its stead. We had received a little money of late, but as everything was scarce and dear, we had to be very careful, and refuse many a "friend's" request - rather a dangerous proceeding in those days.

We believed - but events proved we were wrong - that if any great rebel, any rising man of influence, should present himself before the Amba, the discontented, half-starved wretches would be only too glad to open the gates and receive him as a saviour. The garrison, we knew, would not on any account surrender to the Gallas. For years they had been at enmity, and the marauding expeditions which the soldiers of the mountain had lately made into their territory, had increased that bad feeling, and quite destroyed any hope of reconciliation. This was the more vexatious, as now that Mastiate had, by her treaty with Gobaze, obtained possession and garrisoned all the districts around Magdala, it was but natural to expect that she would make some efforts at least to seize upon a fortress that lay within her dominions. Not many days after the departure of Gobaze for Yedjow, she issued orders to the people of the neighbourhood to cease supplying the Amba, and forbade any of her subjects from attending the weekly market; she even fixed a day for the troops she had detached to Dalanta and Dahonte to rendezvous at a short distance from Magdala, as she intended to destroy the whole of the country for miles around, and reduce the garrison by famine.

The Wallo Gallas are a fine race, far superior to the Abyssinian in elegance, manliness, and courage. Originally from the interior of Africa, they made their first appearance in Abyssinia towards the middle of the sixteenth century. These hordes invaded the fairest provinces in such numbers, they excelled so greatly the Amharas in horsemanship and in courage, that not only did they overrun the land, but lived for years on the resources of the country in imprudent security. After a while they settled down on the beautiful plateau extending from the river Bechelo to the highlands of Shoa, and from the Nile to the lowland inhabited by the Adails. Though retaining most of the characteristics of their race, they adopted many of the customs of the people they conquered. They lost in great measure their predatory and pastoral habits, tilled the soil, built permanent dwellings, and to a certain, extent adopted in their dress, food, and mode of life the usages of the former inhabitants.

In appearance the Galla is tall, well made, rather slender, but wiry; the hair of both men and women is long, thick, waving, rather than curly, and is altogether more like coarse European hair than the semi-woolly texture that covers Abyssinian skulls. Their dress is in many respects identical; both wear trousers, only those of the Gallas are shorter and tighter, somewhat resembling those worn by the people of Tigre. They both wear a large cotton cloth, a robe by day and a covering by night; the only difference being that the Galla seldom weaves in the side the broad red stripe, the pride of the Amhara. The food of both races is nearly the same; both enjoy the raw meat of the cow, the shiro or hot spiced dish of peas, the wat, and the teps (toasted meat); they only differ in the grain they use for bread, the Amhara delighting in pancakes made of the small seed of the tef, whilst the Galla's bread is more loaf-like, and is prepared with the flour of wheat or barley, the only grain that prospers on their elevated land. The Galla women are generally fair; and when not exposed to the sun, their large, black, brilliant, shining eyes, their rosy lips, their long, black, and neatly-braided hair, their little feet and hands, their graceful and well-rounded forms, make them comparable to the fairest daughters of Spain or Italy. The long shirt falling from the neck to the ankle, and fastened round the waist by the ample folds of a white cotton belt; the silver anklets, from which hang tiny bells, the long necklace of beads and silver, the white and black rings covering the taper fingers, are all very much the same articles as those that are thought necessary for the toilette of the Galla amazon and the more sedentary Amhara lady.

The most apparent difference is in their religion. At the time of their first appearance, the Wallo Gallas, like many of the divisions of the same family who, having settled further inland and having less intercourse with foreigners, are still plunged in the grossest idolatry, worshipped trees and stones; or rather under these natural objects rendered adoration to a being called the Unknown, who was to be propitiated by human sacrifices. It is impossible to obtain any correct information as to the exact date of their conversion to Islamism; but it has been accepted by the Wallo tribe almost universally. None at the present day are given to heathen practices, and only a few families belong to the Christian faith.

If we compare the races still further, and examine the morality and social habits of the two, at a first glance it would seem that both are licentious, both dissolute. But, on closer inspection, the degradation of the one is seen to be so thorough, that the other may claim, by contrast, something like primitive simplicity. The Amhara's life is one round of sensual debauchery; his conversation seldom deviates to pure or innocent subjects: no title is so envied by the men as that of libertine, and the women, also, are all ambitious of a like distinction: an "unfortunate" is not regarded as unfortunate there. The richest, the noblest, the highest in the land are profligates in love, or mercenary: more frequently both. Nothing is so disagreeable to an Abyssinian lady's ear as an insinuation that she is virtuous; for that would be taken to mean that she is either ill-looking or for some other reason is not favoured with many lovers.

In some parts of the Galla country the family exists in the old patriarchal form. The father is in his humble hut as absolute as the chief is over the tribe. If a man marries and is afterwards obliged to leave his village on a distant foray, his wife is immediately taken under the close protection of his brother, who is her husband until the elder's return. This custom was for many years very prevalent; now it is more limited: it is most common in the plateau arising from the Bechelo to Dalanta or Dahonte, where Galla families, almost isolated from the general tribe, have preserved many of the institutions of their forefathers. The stranger invited under the roof of a Galla chief will find in the same large smoky hut individuals of several generations. The heavy straw roof rests on some ten or twelve wooden pillars, having in the centre an open space, where the matrons, sitting near the fire, prepare the evening meal, while a swarm of children play around them. Opposite the rude door of small twigs, held together by nothing but a few branches cut from the nearest tree, stands the simple alga of the "lord of the manor." Near his bed neighs his favourite horse, the pet of young and old. In other partitioned places are his stores of barley or wheat. When the evening meal is over, and the children sleep where they last fell in their romping games, the chief first sees that the companion of his forays is well littered; he then conducts his guest to the spot where some sweet-smelling straw has been spread under a dried cow-hide. Nor is that the end of his hospitality, which at this point becomes rather embarrassing to the married traveller. But the strange way in which the guest is honoured must not be set down to licentiousness; it really is simplicity.

Every Galla is a horseman, every horseman a soldier; and thus is formed a perfect militia, an always ready army, where no discipline is required, no drill but to follow the chief. As soon as the war-cry is heard, or the signal fire is seen on the summit of the distant peak, the ever-ready steed is saddled, the young son jumps up behind his father to hold his second lance, and from every hamlet, from every apparently peaceful homestead, brave soldiers rush to the rendezvous. When Theodore himself, at the head of his thousands, invaded their land, then farewell to their homes. His revengeful hand burnt forms and villages far and wide wherever he was opposed, and the defenceless peasants fled in order to save their lives, knowing well how futile were their hopes of safety, should they fall into his power.

The Wallos are divided into seven tribes. Presenting no differences amongst themselves, they were simply separated by civil wars. Could these brave horsemen only understand the motto "Union is strength," they could make as easy a conquest of the whole of Abyssinia as their fathers did of the plains they now dwell upon. When united, they have always carried their arms successfully into an enemy's country. Children of their race, the Gooksas, the Maries, the Alis, have held the Emperor in their sway, and governed the land for years. Unfortunately during the days of our captivity, as had been but too frequently the case before, petty jealousies, unworthy rivalries, weakened to such an extent their power that, far from being able to impose their laws on others, they in turn became but tools in the hands of the Christian kings and rulers. With Abusheer died the last vestige of union. If not at actual war, one party was always working against another; and no distant campaign could be thought of when their enemies in their own country dwelt.

Abusheer, the last Imam of the Wallo Gallas, left two sons by different wives, Workite [Footnote: Fine gold.] and Mastiate. [Footnote: Looking-glass.] The son of the former, as we mentioned in a previous chapter, was killed by Theodore on the escape of Menilek to Shoa, and Workite had no option left but to seek the hospitality of the young king for whom she had sacrificed so much.

Thus for more than two years Mastiate was left in undisturbed possession of the supremacy vested in her by the unanimous consent of the chiefs, a regent for her son until he attained his majority.

Menilek, after his escape, had no easy task before him: the chief who had headed the rebellion in the name of his king, after the gallant repulse and the check he inflicted upon Theodore, declared himself independent - became the Cromwell instead of the Monk of Abyssinia. Menilek was, however, well received by a small party of faithful adherents; Workite had also been accompanied by a small force of trusty followers; and on a large number of the chiefs abandoning the usurper and joining the standard of Menilek, he marched against the powerful rebel, who still held the capital and many strong places, utterly defeated his army and made him a prisoner.

This victory was shortly afterwards followed by the complete submission of Shoa to his rule; chief after chief made their obedience, and all acknowledged as their king the grandson of Sahela Selassi. Once his rights admitted by his people, he led his army against the numerous Galla tribes who inhabit the beautiful country extending from the south-eastern frontier of Shoa to the picturesque lake of Guaragu. But, instead of plundering these agricultural races, as his father had done, he promised them honourable treatment, a kind of mild vassalage, on the payment of a small annual tribute. The Gallas, surprised at his unexpected generosity and clemency, willingly accepted his terms, and, from former foes, enrolled themselves as his followers, and accompanied him on his expeditions. Theodore had left a strong garrison on an almost impregnable amba, situated at the northern frontier of Shoa, commanding the entrance into the pass leading from the Galla country to the highlands of Shoa. Menilek, before his campaign in the Galla country, had invested that last stronghold of Theodore in his own dominions, and, after a six months' siege, the garrison, who had repeatedly applied to their master for relief, at last gave in and opened their gates to the young king. Menilek treated them exceedingly well, many were honoured with appointments in his household, others received titles and commands, or were placed in positions of trust and confidence.

Menilek owed much to Workite; without her timely protection he would have been pursued, and as Shoa had shut its gates upon him, his position would have become one of great difficulty and danger. He could not forget, either, that to save his life she had sacrificed her only son and lost her kingdom: his debt of gratitude towards her was immense, and nothing he could do could adequately repay her for her devotion. But if he could not give her back her murdered son, he would, at all events, march against her rival, and restore by force of arms the disgraced queen to the throne she had lost on his account. At the end of October, 1867, Menilek, at the head of a considerable army, computed at 40,000 to 50,000 men, composed of 30,000 cavalry, some 2,000 or 3,000 musketeers, and the rest spearmen, entered the Wallo Galla plain: he proclaimed that he came not as an enemy, but as a friend; not to destroy nor to plunder, but to re-establish in her rule the deposed and lawful queen Workite. She was accompanied by a young lad who, she asserted, was her grandson, the child of the prince who had been killed more than two years before at Magdala. She stated that he had been born in the Wallo country, before her departure for Shoa, the result of one of those frequent casual unions so common in the country, and that she had taken him away when she sought refuge in the land of the man whom she had saved. To avoid any attempt being made by her rival to secure the person of her grandchild, she had until then kept the matter secret. However, her story was but little credited: I know on the Amba the soldiers laughed at it; still it offered an excuse to many of her former adherents for again joining her cause, and if they did not credit her tale they pretended at least to do go.

The Galla chiefs for some time remained undecided. Menilek kept to his word; he neither plundered nor molested any one, and, before long, he reaped the reward of his wise policy. Five of the tribes sent in their adhesion, and recognized Workite as regent for her grandson. Mastiate, in presence of such defection, adopted the most prudent course of retiring with her reduced army before the overwhelming forces of her adversaries; they followed her for some days, but without overtaking her. Menilek, believing that they had nothing more to fear on that side, settled as he best could the claims of Workite, and, accompanied by a large force of his new allies, marched against Magdala.

Menilek had evidently placed much confidence in the well-known disaffection of the garrison, and he expected that, through the influence of the Bishop (of whose death he was not aware), of his uncle Aito Dargie, and of Mr. Kassam, he would find on his arrival a party in his favour, who would materially assist him, if not make over the Amba to him at once. No doubt, had the Bishop been still alive he would either have succeeded by promises, threats, or force in opening the gates to his beloved friend. Aito Dargie, I believe, contrived to secure a promise of assistance from a few chiefs; but they were not powerful enough, and at the last moment lacked courage.

As for Mr. Rassam, he adopted the most prudent course of suiting his policy to the movements of Menilek; too much caution could not be used, as there was much reason to fear that the great deeds about to be achieved would end in empty boasting. To Menilek he gave great encouragement, offered him the friendship of England, and even went so far as assuring him that he would be acknowledged by our Government as king, should we be indebted to him for our deliverance; he requested him to encamp at Selassie, fire his two guns against the gate, and should the garrison not give in, to encamp between Arogie and the Bechelo, and keep Theodore from reaching the Amba until the arrival of our troops.

We had been greatly disappointed by Wakshum Gobaze: for six weeks he was always coming, but never came. Next we had Mastiate as our great excitement: she, we thought, would strive to gain possession of her amba; but she also never made her appearance; and now for nearly a month we were in daily expectation of the arrival of Menilek. We had already given him up when, to our great surprise, on the morning of the 30th of November, we perceived a large camp pitched on the northern slope of Tanta; and on the top of a small eminence commanding the plateau, and opposite to Magdala, stood the red, white, and black tents of the King of Shoa, the ambitious young prince who styled himself already "King of kings." Our astonishment was complete when, towards noon, we heard the report of a steady musketry-fire mingled with the occasional discharge of small cannon. We at once gave credit to Menilek for greater pluck than we ever believed him capable of; expecting that under cover of his fire the elite of his troops would assault the place; and aware of the little resistance he would meet with, we already rejoiced at the prospect of liberty, or at least of an advantageous change of masters. We had not finished our mutual congratulations when the firing ceased: as everything was calm and quiet on the Amba, we could not make out what was going on, until some of our guards came into our huts and asked us if we had heard Menilek's "faker." Alas, it was indeed nothing but a mere boast: he had fired from the verge of the Galla plateau, far out of range, to terrify into submission the wavering garrison; then, satisfied with his day's work, he and his men had retired to their tents, awaiting the result of their warlike demonstration.

The fact of Menilek being encamped on the Galla plain was full of peril for ourselves without being of any avail to him. The next morning he sent a message to us through Aito Dargie, asking what he should do. We again strongly urged upon him the necessity of his attacking the Amba by the Islamgee side; and in case he deemed it impossible to assault the place, to stop all communication between the fortress and the Imperial camp. Our great fear was that Theodore, on hearing that Menilek was besieging his amba, would send orders for the immediate execution of all prisoners of note, ourselves included. No doubt great disaffection existed on the Amba, and if Menilek had gone the proper way to work, before many days the place would have been his. But he never did anything; he remained encamped on the spot he had first chosen, and made no other attempt to rescue us.

Waizero Terunish, Theodore's queen, acted well on that occasion: she gave an adderash (public breakfast), presided over by her son Alamayou, to all the chiefs of the mountain. It being a fast-day, the feast was limited to tef bread, and a peppery sauce; and as the supply of tej in the royal cellars was scanty, the enthusiasm was not very considerable. Still it had the desired effect - chiefs and soldiers had publicly to proclaim their loyalty to Theodore; as with the party, still strong, that would give ear to no treachery, she was prepared to seize the malcontents individually, before they had time to declare themselves in open rebellion as the adherents of Menilek. Every one who thought that he was in any way suspected, and many who had no doubt made promises to Menilek and accepted his bribes, felt very nervous. Samuel was sent for; he did not like the prospect at all, and we were very much afraid for him ourselves, and glad when we saw him come back. On its being perceived that some of the chiefs had not made their appearance, inquiries were made as to the cause of their absence; they, seeing that there was very little hope of securing a strong party in favour of Menilek, gave explanations that were accepted, conditionally that on the following day they would repair to the King's inclosure, and there, in presence of the assembled garrison, proclaim their loyalty. They went as they had been ordered, and were the loudest in their praise of Theodore, in their expressions of devotion to his cause, and in their abuse of the "fat boy" who had ventured near a fortress entrusted to their care.

The Queen had done her duty well and honourably. The Ras and chiefs consulted together, and considered it advisable, in order to show their affection and devotion for their master, to do something themselves also. But what should be done? They had already placed extra guards at night on the gates, and protected every weak point on the Amba; nothing remained but to bully the prisoners. The second evening after the arrival of Menilek before the mountain, Samuel received orders from the chiefs to make us all sleep at night in one hut; the only exception being made in favour of the king's friend, Mr. Rassam. But poor Samuel, though sick, went to the Ras and insisted on having the order cancelled: I believe his influence was backed on that occasion by a douceur he quietly slipped into the Ras's hand. The chiefs in their wisdom had also decreed, and the next morning enforced the order that all the servants, Mr. Rassam's excepted; should be sent down from the mountain. The messengers and other public servants employed by Mr. Rassam were also obliged to leave. To Prideaux and myself they allowed, apart from our Portuguese, a water-girl and a small boy each. I had no house down at Islamgee; Samuel could not think of allowing me to pitch a tent, so the poor fellows would have been very badly off if Captain Cameron had not very kindly allowed them to share his servants' quarters. We were put to great inconvenience by this absurd and vexatious order, and I had some trouble, when everything was again quiet, in getting the servants up again; it required all the influence of Samuel and a douceur to the Ras, out of my pocket, to gain my object.

As may well be expected, the Abyssinian prisoners were not spared; all their servants were counted, and sent down the mountain, one only being allowed to three or four during the daytime to carry wood, water, and prepare their food. They were not suffered to leave the night-houses, but had to remain day and night in those filthy places. Every one on the mountain was exceedingly anxious that Menilek should decide on something, and put an end to that painful state of anxiety.

Early on the morning of the 3rd of December we were apprised by our servants that Menilek had struck his camp and was on the move. Where he was going to no one knew; but, as we were to some extent in his confidence, we flattered ourselves that he had accepted our advice, and would before long be seen on Selassie, or on the plateau of Islamgee. We spent a very anxious morning; the chiefs seemed perplexed, evidently expecting an assault from that direction, and we were confidentially informed that we should be called upon to man the guns should the Amba be attacked. However, our suspense was shortly at an end. The smoke rising in the distance, and in the direction of the road to Shoa, showed us but too clearly that the would-be conqueror had, without striking a blow, returned to his own country, and, with great gallantry, was burning a few miserable villages, whose chiefs were adherents of Mastiate.

The excuse Menilek gave for his hasty retreat was, that his supplies had run short, and that, having no camp-followers with him he could not have flour prepared; that his troops being hungry and dissatisfied, he had decided on returning at once to Shoa, collect his camp-followers, and advance again better provisioned, and remain in the neighbourhood of Magdala until it fell. The truth was, that to his great disappointment he had heard from his camp the muskets fired during the "fakering;" he knew that, as far as treachery was concerned, his chance was gone for a while, and that he must await the effects of want and privation induced by a long siege. Supplies he might have obtained in abundance, as he was the ally of Workite and in a friendly country. Should he even have required more, the undefended districts of Worahaimanoo, Dalanta, etc., would have been quite willing to send abundant provisions into his camp on the assurance that they would not be molested. But if this "fakering" somewhat deranged his plans, something he saw on the evening of the second day, a mere speck of smoke, made him fairly run away. That smoke was kindled by the terrible Theodore. He was, it is true, still far away; but who could say? His father-in-law, Menilek knew well, was a man of long marches and sudden attacks. How his large army would be scattered like chaff before the wind at the cry, "Theodore is coming," he was well aware, and he came to the conclusion that the sooner he was off the better.

Our disappointment was something beyond description. Our rage, our indignation and scorn for such cowardice, I cannot express. The "fat boy," as we also now called him, we hated and despised. Had we been imprudent enough openly to take his part, what would have become of us? Menilek, doubtless, meant well, and probably would have succeeded had the Bishop lived a few weeks longer. As it is, he did us a great deal of harm. Had he and Workite never left Shoa, Mastiate would have laid siege to the mountain. Sooner or later it must have surrendered, and neither Theodore nor his messengers would ever have ventured south of the Bechelo if Mastiate had been there with her 20,000 horsemen.

With Menilek's departure, I, for one, made up my mind never again to credit any of the promises of the native chiefs, which always ended in mere moon-shine. Since then, I heard with the utmost indifference that so-and-so was marching in such a direction, that he or she would attack Theodore, or invest the Amba and stop all communication between the rascals on the top and "our friend" Theodore. We had been a long time without messengers, and the last had not brought us the intelligence so anxiously looked for. Our impatience was greater since we knew that we could expect nothing from the natives, and believed the expedition from England to be on its way: we felt that something was going on and we longed for the certainty.

How well I remember the 13th of December, a glorious day for us! No lover ever read, with more joy and happiness the long-expected note from the beloved one, than I did that day the kind and cheering letter of our gallant friend, General Merewether. Troops had landed! Since the 6th of October, our countrymen were in the same land that saw us captives. Roads, piers, were being made; regiment after regiment were leaving the shores of India, some already marching across the Abyssinian Alps to rescue or avenge. It seemed too delightful to be true: we could hardly credit it. Ere long all must be over! Liberty or death! Anything was better than continued slavery. Theodore was coming - qu'importe? Was not Merewether there? the brave leader of many a hard fight; the gallant officer and accomplished politician. With such men as a Napier, a Staveley at the head of British troops, who could feel but contempt for petty vexations? We were prepared even for a worse fate, if it was to be our lot. At least, England's prestige would be restored, her children's blood not left unrevenged. It was one of those exciting moments in a man's life that few can realize who have not passed through months of mental agony, and then been suddenly overcome with joy. We laughed more than ever at the idea of giving even a thought to such poltroons as Gobaz and Menilek. The hope of meeting our brave countrymen cheered us. In the mind's eye we beheld them, and in our hearts we thanked them for the toils and privations they would have to undergo before they could set the captives free. For the second time, Christmas and New Year's Day found us in fetters at Magdala; but we were happy: they would be the last, at all events, and, full of trust in our deliverance, we now looked forward to spending the next at home.