On the afternoon of the 15th October, all our preparations being
apparently complete, the mission, composed of Mr. H. Rassam, Lieut.
W.F. Prideaux, of her Majesty's Bombay Staff Corps, and myself,
started on its dangerous enterprise. We were accompanied by a nephew
of the Naib of Arkiko; and an escort of Turkish Irregulars had been
graciously sent by the Pasha to protect our sixty camels, laden
with our personal luggage, stores, and presents for the Ethiopian
monarch. We also took with us several Portuguese and other Indian
servants, and a few natives of Massowah as muleteers.
On a first march something is always found wanting. On this occasion
many of the cameleers were unprovided with ropes: boxes, portmanteau-bags,
were strewed all over the road, and night was far advanced before
the last camel reached Moncullou. A halt was in consequence absolutely
necessary, so that the actual start was only made on the afternoon
of the 16th.
From Moncullou our route lay N.W. across the desert of Chab, a
dreary wilderness of sand, intersected by two winter torrents,
generally dry: but by digging in their sandy beds it is possible
at all seasons to obtain some muddy water. The rapidity with which
these torrents fill up is most astonishing.
During the summer of 1865, we had made a trip to Af-Abed, in the