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Chapter VIII 


They lose their way, are in continual apprehensions of the Galles. They come to Duan, and settle in Abyssinia.

About nine the next morning we came to the end of this toilsome and rugged path, where the way divided into two, yet both led to a well, the only one that was found in our journey. A Moor with three others took the shortest, without directing us to follow him; so we marched forwards we knew not whither, through woods and over rocks, without sleep or any other refreshment: at noon the next day we discovered that we were near the field of salt. Our affliction and distress is not to be expressed; we were all fainting with heat and weariness, and two of the patriarch's servants were upon the point of dying for want of water. None of us had any but a Moor, who could not be prevailed upon to part with it at less than the weight in gold; we got some from him at last, and endeavoured to revive the two servants, while part of us went to look for a guide that might put us in the right way. The Moors who had arrived at the well, rightly guessing that we were lost, sent one of their company to look for us, whom we heard shouting in the woods, but durst make no answer for fear of the Galles. At length he found us, and conducted us to the rest; we instantly forgot our past calamities, and had no other care than to recover the patriarch's attendants. We did not give them a full draught at first, but poured in the water by drops, to moisten their mouths and throats, which were extremely swelled: by this caution they were soon well. We then fell to eating and drinking, and though we had nothing but our ordinary repast of honey and dried flesh, thought we never had regaled more pleasantly in our lives.

We durst not stay long in this place for fear of the Galles, who lay their ambushes more particularly near this well, by which all caravans must necessarily pass. Our apprehensions were very much increased by our suspicion of the camel-drivers, who, as we imagined, had advertised the Galles of our arrival. The fatigue we had already suffered did not prevent our continuing our march all night: at last we entered a plain, where our drivers told us we might expect to be attacked by the Galles; nor was it long before our own eyes convinced us that we were in great danger, for we saw as we went along the dead bodies of a caravan who had been lately massacred, a sight which froze our blood, and filled us with pity and with horror. The same fate was not far from overtaking us, for a troop of Galles, who were detached in search of us, missed us but an hour or two. We spent the next night in the mountains, but when we should have set out in the morning, were obliged to a fierce dispute with the old Moor, who had not yet lost his inclination to destroy us; he would have had us taken a road which was full of those people we were so much afraid of: at length finding he could not prevail with us, that we charged the goods upon him as belonging to the Emperor, to whom he should be answerable for the loss of them, he consented, in a sullen way, to go with us.

The desire of getting out of the reach of the Galles made us press forward with great expedition, and, indeed, fear having entirely engrossed our minds, we were perhaps less sensible of all our labours and difficulties; so violent an apprehension of one danger made us look on many others with unconcern; our pains at last found some intermission at the foot of the mountains of Duan, the frontier of Abyssinia, which separates it from the country of the Moors, through which we had travelled.

Here we imagined we might repose securely, a felicity we had long been strangers to. Here we began to rejoice at the conclusion of our labours; the place was cool and pleasant, the water was excellent, and the birds melodious. Some of our company went into the wood to divert themselves with hearing the birds and frightening the monkeys, creatures so cunning that they would not stir if a man came unarmed, but would run immediately when they saw a gun. At this place our camel drivers left us, to go to the feast of St. Michael, which the Aethiopians celebrate the 16th of June. We persuaded them, however, to leave us their camels and four of their company to take care of them.

We had not waited many days before some messengers came to us with an account that Father Baradas, with the Emperor's nephew, and many other persons of distinction, waited for us at some distance; we loaded our camels, and following the course of the river, came in seven hours to the place we were directed to halt at. Father Manuel Baradas and all the company, who had waited for us a considerable time on the top of the mountain, came down when they saw our tents, and congratulated our arrival. It is not easy to express the benevolence and tenderness with which they embraced us, and the concern they showed at seeing us worn away with hunger, labour, and weariness, our clothes tattered, and our feet bloody.

We left this place of interview the next day, and on the 21st of June arrived at Fremone, the residence of the missionaries, where we were welcomed by great numbers of Catholics, both Portuguese and Abyssins, who spared no endeavours to make us forget all we had suffered in so hazardous a journey, undertaken with no other intention than to conduct them in the way of salvation.

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