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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/708

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ENTERTAINING VARIETIES.
 

 

THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON;

OR,

TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES OF HAKIM BEN SHEYTAN.

Translated by F. L. O.

INTRODUCTION.

The result of the first Tunisian expedition to the interior of Africa is too well known to require here more than a general mention. After the treaty of Khundabad, the commander of the exploring-party tried to reach the Mongha highlands by following the valley of the Bar-el-Nun, and had already crossed the foot-hills that form the western boundary of the Fant hunting-grounds, when the vanguard of his auxiliaries was routed by an attack of the Galla marauders, who captured sixteen of his companions, including his five Tripolitan merchants, and effected their retreat across the mountains before the arrival of the Khundabad rescuing party. But this very disaster, which defeated the immediate object of the explorers, helped to enlist the aid of the Tripolitan Government, and thus led to the marvelous discoveries of the second expedition.

In the last week of November, 1878, the command of Marut Pasha assembled at Wady el Kamr, where they were joined by a troop of Tunisian volunteers, mostly relatives of the captured merchants. Hakim Ben Sheytan, the medical and quasi-scientific attaché of the expedition, had been appointed at the special recommendation of the mollah or high-priest of Tripoli, who had also induced the government to furnish the commissary supplies from the Dey's own Beit-el-Habbada or body-guard barracks. The caravan reached Moorzook in midwinter, and, in spite of the doctor's protest, the commander attempted to cross the Bedeyat lowlands before the end of the rainy season. The Harra-Ghul, the terrible jungle-fever of the waddies, broke out before they had reached the Soodan hill-country; the Tunisian volunteers, and at last even the pasha's veterans, were decimated by the epidemic, and upon their arrival at Darfoor all but twenty of them had to be sent to the Arabian hospital. But the instructions were very stringent: the sick were left in charge of a native surgeon, and with twenty-five followers, including Dr. Sheytan and three Darfoor guides, the commander continued his journey to Gallaland. They followed the windings of the Bar-el-Adda, a stream that takes its rise in the Mountains of the Moon, and at last reached the land of the Khundi Fants, and made their way to the chief village, where the news from the frontier