Imágenes de páginas

instituted in 1889 in the University of Edinburgh, and supported by a grant of £50 a-year from the Highland and Agricultural Society; £150 a-year in support of a "Course of Free Instruction for Practical Foresters and Gardeners," at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh; and similar aid to classes in Forestry in the Durham College of Science, Newcastle-onTyne, and at the West of Scotland Technical College, Glasgow. It is to be hoped that before long technical and scientific instruction in Forestry will receive much more substantial support from Government, both financially and otherwise.

With its admirably appointed Arboretum, Edinburgh is peculiarily adapted for a centre of higher education in Forestry. Naturally, therefore, the founding of a Chair of Forestry in the University of Edinburgh has long been an object eagerly sought for in Scotland. Scotchmen are impatient in waiting. They also indulge the belief that those who desire a thing well done, and done timely, must do it themselves. The Forestry Exhibition left no money for the purpose; successive Governments have allowed the Report of the Forestry Committee to lie as a dead letter; and so Scotchmen have set to work to establish on a sure foundation a course of Forestry instruction

in the University of Edinburgh. When this movement began, the University authorities undertook to institute a Chair of Forestry if a sum of £10,000 were provided with which to endow it. The promoters obtained a promise from the Government that if the onehalf of that sum were raised otherwise, the other half would be contributed from Government funds. The matter was taken in hand by the Highland and Agricultural Society and the Royal Scottish Arboricultural Society, and the results so far have been fairly encouraging. A sum of over

£2250 has now been subscribed privately, and the efforts to obtain further subscriptions are still being continued. It is understood that now, on account of the low rate of interest for money, a larger sum than £10,000 would be required by the University authorities before they would undertake to institute and maintain a Chair of Forestry. For a smaller sum even than £10,000, however, the temporary Lectureship on Forestry might be put upon a permanent footing. This in itself would be an important object. It might now be accomplished if the Government could be induced to make a substantial grant to the fund that has been raised by private subscriptions. Has not the time come for an effort in this direction?

[blocks in formation]

CERTAINLY, until the end came, we had found no fault in Giammaria, our Italian messman. His efficiency in the most varied capacities had been amply approved. As a cook, he was without an equal in the camp; and he could evolve salads from almost any materials. "Is it vegetable?" he would ask, when in joke we handed him some mysterious parcel; "then it will make a salad." And apparently it did. Anything served; and we suspected that shavings, compressed hay, or straw bottlecases even, if nothing else was at hand, became salads that were delightful. Giammaria was a great traveller. He had visited all the quarters of the world, but especially he knew Africa; and during long years of ceaseless fighting under Gessi Bey in Equatoria and Bahrel-Ghazal, had gained an acquaintance with the methods and stratagems of Sudan warfare that might well have entitled him (had mere knowledge aught to do with such matters) to no obscure place in the officers' council-tent. By the natives, moreover, he was accounted a great Hakim.1 Indeed, here at Suakim, his reputation had spread so widely among the Friendlies, that his medicine-chest-he kept a bottle of croton-oil, a camel's-hair brush, and a fleam in an old cigarbox was in continual demand. But perhaps he was at his best as an interpreter. In this capacity he was invaluable. It was not merely that he was an able translator of words and phrases-that were nothing but he could read the native mind like an open and dog-eared book, and would fathom

[ocr errors]

at once the hidden motive prompting each particular lie with an accuracy that terrified his victim. And he was always cheerful.

We used to watch him lazily in the hot mornings as we sat, scantily clad, on the shady side of our tree. The kitchen-tent gleamed before us white-hot in the sunlight. From within, plates rattled, spoons clinked, fragrant fumes burst from cook-pots and hung in the shimmering air. Giammaria, singing always as he worked, flitted in and out, bustling everywhere-tasting one pot, stirring another, throwing a pinch of something into a third; now polishing a knife, now wringing out a cloth and spreading it on the tent to dry, and anon checking his music to fling a command to the black boys, his aids.


All day long round about the kitchen-tent, at a respectful distance, squatted ever a circle of his patients and admirers. group of Friendlies maybe, their shields on their knees, their spears stretched before them; a few campfollowers, not actively interested, but with an eye to potential pilfering; further off a huddled mass of greasy flaccid goat-skins and women water-carriers-women so stunted, so battered and withered, as to be like nothing in the world so much as the shrivelled skins whose contents they had just now poured into our zeer.2

Presently through the cowering groups would stalk a personage. It was, say, Wa-ad Idis, chief of the guides-gaunt, stately, with the tread of a panther,—a great spear flashing in one hand, a huge

2 Porous clay water-jar holding many gallons. 2 x


lump of fresh mutton-fat sizzling on his top-knot, and dripping on to the half-dozen yards of cotton stuff that draped his lithe limbs like a toga. He was come to consult the doctor.

The ceremony of consultation never varied in its details. The patient approached the tent and leant on his spear. Giammaria, feigning brief unconsciousness of the visit, sang two bars in a high key, and then paused to fling a curt inquiry at the sufferer. To the native mind the song held no mean place in the treatment. Then the patient detailed his symptoms, and saying his inside was "going like this," conveyed with his fingers suggestions of a stag-beetle struggling on its back.

"Out tongue!" ordered the doctor, much as one might say "Fix bayonets," and produced the cigarbox, singing louder than ever.

"Io son la Farfalla," he carolled, plunging the brush in the crotonoil.

"Che scerza tra i fiori "—here he liberally daubed the victim's tongue-"e schelga le rose." This line was always con espressione as he gave the finishing touches. Then he said sharply to the patient, "Now shut your mouth and enjoy yourself," and vanished into the tent, leaving his audience at once awestruck and delighted.

But long years of sojourn beneath the fierce African sun entail penalties from which_few Europeans are exempt. Poor Giam maria was constantly shaken by recurrent attacks of fever, and as the days grew hotter lived in daily dread of the sunstroke, to which he had already fallen twice a victim. The saying that no doctor can prescribe for himself is probably not more absurd than

many other old sayings; but in this case it was justified. Misled, doubtless, by his experience of native constitutions, our unlucky factotum subjected himself to heroic treatment, and applied quinine for his fevers, and the fleam against the sunstroke, and terrible Greek brandy as a fillip for the system generally, with a Spartan determination that produced fatal results. For under these combined influences, one night he ran wildly, singing as usual, to the top of the waterfort, and threw himself on to the rocks beneath, where, when we found him, he had already passed beyond reach of aught save our regrets.

This was the dawning of Hanna. I met him at Massowah. Hanna was at this time about three-andtwenty years old. He was five feet ten in height, handsome as a bronze statue, free, irresponsible, happy; untouched by the canker of civilisation; trammelled by neither cares nor clothes nor political convictions. His worldly possessions were a breech - cloth, a sheath-knife-minus the sheath -half-a-dozen sugar-canes, and a small blue cross tattooed on the right wrist; and with these he was in a manner rich, since he needed and wished nothing more, unless, indeed, it were a copper ring for his great toe. All day long he lay on a heap of dhurra1 in the market-place, munching ceaselessly at a sugar-cane, chatting with his friends, men of means and leisure like himself, and chaffing the girls as they trudged to and fro with the water-skins across the long stone causeway that led to the mainland and the wells. At night the dhurra made a soft bed and a strip of mat a counterpane, and

1 Coarse Indian corn.

each morning found him in his place tasting the pleasures of a new day.

Servant-seeking though I was, I had watched Hanna for a week before I ventured to approach him with an offer of employment. I had no equivalent, I felt, to give him in exchange for this idyllic existence that was his. But when I saw him attack the stump of his last sugar-cane, I knew the time for hesitation was past. If he went out to steal a fresh supply I might lose sight of him altogether; or should he return from the foray, weary but enriched, he would be less than ever inclined for work. Yet even as it was, it needed dark strategy to secure my end.

I sought the owner of Hanna's dhurra-heap, and bought it from beneath him, and while he was still dazed with the shock of eviction, I persuaded him to convey the grain on board my steamer. There I gave him a lump of coarse brown sugar, and suggested that he should clean my long tan boots with milk. He complied, but drank the milk first-perhaps to stimulate his arm. Then I exhibited some more sugar and several small coins, and invited him to come next morning and make himself useful. He looked bewildered, startled, a little hurt maybe, that he should be asked to do so much. He glanced from the sugar in his hand to the dhurra-baskets ranged on deck, and from the dhurra-baskets to the machinery, the boots, the awning, the open door of the cook's galley and hesitated. Refusal puckered his brown forehead. At this supreme moment I had an inspiration. I carelessly drew out my watch-a repeater-and made it strike. Hanna's eyes gleamed. I touched the spring again. Ping

ping! ping-ping! and victory was mine. "Shugl bittal Inglis," he murmured in broken Arabic-an invention of the English and declared himself my slave forthwith. It was once more the triumph of curiosity over innocence.

The plunge made, Hanna developed rapidly, and readily accommodated himself to his new position. Very early he discovered his need of clothes. There was no question of shame, but it was not for my dignity, he said, that he should go naked. An ancestor of his and mine used a less manly, if more plausible, argument, although he knew naught of yellow boots or "clocks that cried like the steamer." For thus Hanna, who knew no other bells, designated the repeater. Like other infants newly born into civilised life, Hanna was bathed and put into long-clothes: what else, indeed, were the seven yards of cotton stuff in which he draped himself, with the Manchester factory mark displayed proudly on the corner? Like an infant, too, he wore a little embroidered cap, and some yards of belting about his middle. He differed from white children only in that the process of evolution was, in his case, more rapid than in theirs. In two years he had run through the whole gamut of costume, and had reached a state of sartorial effulgence which the European youth rarely attains under twenty. He had swiftly traversed the several stages of short-clothes presented in his case by varieties of the galubieh and jubbé, tunics reaching to the ankle and the knees. He had made a lengthened halt at the knickerbocker and short-jacket stage-knickerbockers, be it said, of a generous oriental cut, and jackets broidered with gold; and finally, after suffering cruel tortures with his first


starched shirt and high collar, his garments had attained the apotheosis of dress as typified by a tall hat, a suit of reach-me-downs, very tight (from Messrs Somebody's on Ludgate Hill), and patent leathers, or, as he called them, "glass boots," with uppers of bright blue cloth.

It is no doubt a matter of taste, but, for my own part, I preferred Hanna in his first costume, the tobé. Draped in this toga-like garment, with rawhide sandals bound to his great toes, on one of which gleamed the coveted ring, with a sickle-shaped dagger buckled to each elbow, and a tall slim-bladed spear grasped in one hand, Hanna, as he swaggered through the market - place and among the mat hovels of the native town, was a sight worth beholding. His flashing eyes, his gleaming white teeth, the oily wrinkles of his bronze face, the shiny curls that held his white cap in place far back on his bullet head, seemed all to smile at once. His satisfaction in himself was ir resistible. His delight in his newfound prosperity-a prosperity already far beyond the wildest flights of his day-dreams-was unbounded, and found an outlet in an ineffable good-humour towards his old companions, and a demeanour of bland tolerance towards his former enemies, the Banian merchants of the town.

When the time came to return to Suakim, Hanna made no difficulties as to the trip. He had heard, he said, that there was an excellent Franghi souk1 at Suakim where he might obtain articles necessary to a man of his rank, such as were not to be found in Massowah. At this time he had been in my service a fortnight. Moreover, he had relations, he

1 European market.

thought, in the town. No doubt, too, his intense desire to investigate the working of that strange monster, the bappor,2 did much to allay his fears of the unknown world that lay beyond Massowah. It was already something to have lived on board the bappor while at anchor in the little bay, and the circumstance had given him great authority among his fellows; but the movements of the great black beast were still as deep a mystery to him as to his comrades, who asked him continually what was the whirring, throbbing song she moaned always before she moved, and what they had done to annoy her that she should viciously spout great volumes of boiling steam through a little hole in her side, straight into the dug-out where they sat laughing and chattering alongside.

[ocr errors]

But if the exile himself was cheerful, the demeanour of his friends made ample amends. For three days before we sailed they boarded the steamer in a continuous procession from dawn to sundown. Great numbers of them were ladies, Hanna said they were his sisters, which showed that his mother must have been a remarkable as well as a handsome woman. The young ladies were all very much the same age-bright, pretty, modest-looking Abyssinian girls, with big soft eyes and cool grey skins, with slim hands and feet, and small regular features, and limbs delicately moulded. Their costume was indescribable, and so slight as to leave on my memory an impression not more definite than it produced on themselves; but their ornaments, I remember, were Maria Theresa dollars-necklaces, bracelets, anklets all of these same useful

2 Steamer.

« AnteriorContinuar »