All Woodwork Was Warped; Ivory
Knife-Handles Were Split; Paper Broke When Crunched In The Hand, And The
Very Marrow Seemed To He Dried Out Of The Bones.
The extreme dryness of
the air induced an extraordinary amount of electricity in the hair and
in all woollen materials.
A Scotch plaid laid upon a blanket for a few
hours adhered to it, and upon being withdrawn at night a sheet of flame
was produced, accompanied by tolerably loud reports.
We reached Berber on May 31st, and spent a week in resting after our
formidable desert march of fifteen days. From the slight experience I
had gained in the journey, I felt convinced that success in my Nile
expedition would be impossible without a knowledge of Arabic. My
dragoman had me completely in his power, and I resolved to become
independent of all interpreters as soon as possible. I therefore
arranged a plan of exploration for the first year, to embrace the
affluents to the Nile from the Abyssinian range of mountains, intending
to follow up the Atbara River from its junction with the Nile in
latitude 17 deg. 37 min. (twenty miles south of Berber), and to examine
all the Nile tributaries from the southeast as far as the Blue Nile,
which river I hoped ultimately to descend to Khartoum. I imagined that
twelve months would be sufficient to complete such an exploration, by
which time I should have gained a sufficient knowledge of the Arabic to
render me able to converse fairly well.
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