TRAVEL DESCRIPTION FROM SINNAR TO MUSHU
On the fifteenth of June 1702 the whole caravan set off, and after
brotherly farewells to Father Pasquale and Father Benedetto, we joined it.
For the whole day we kept pace, step by step.
Since our deathly ill Father Antonio della Terza and one of the Ethiopian
boys were unable to stand on their feet, we were obliged to place Father
Antonio on a donkey; we then assigned a Barbarin to hold him on and
keep him from falling.
On the sixteenth [of June 1702] we made a journey of about ten hours,
which made our two patients deathly sick.
Nevertheless they could under no circumstances be persuaded
to undertake the journey back to Sinnar.
On the seventeenth [of June 1702] Father Antonio became so weak that we thought he
would die on the spot, and our sick Ethiopian boy was not much better.
Therefore we tried in every conceivable way to convince him to go back to
Sinnar while there was still time, to the company of his two colleagues
who would attend to his physical and spiritual necessities with the
To this he would not consent in the slightest, saying that the
beginning of the journey made him tired, but that he had great hope for
We continued our march with great misery, and arrived
on the twenty-first [of June 1702] in Arbaji, where we had to stay for
five days due to the hindrance of the sick people with us.
During this time one of our Moorish boys
on the twenty-second [of June 1702] died. His death so terrified the other
seven that two ran away, taking only a little biscuit-bread.
They went to the river, hoping to escape to Sinnar, and thence to Ethiopia.
We were greatly shaken, and at great expense sent our Arabs to bring
them back. They were returned the following day.
We spoke kindly to them, and did not even act as if they had broken
any rule, in order to keep their affection toward us.
The sickness and weakness of our good Father Antonio increased from
day to day so that we were forced to remain here until he either got
better or died. This was hard for all of us, for we had to leave with him
a priest to care for him. Father Joseph did not know in this case [p. 360]
what to advise or how to help, for he wanted to take someone, preferably me,
with him to Rome. Further, my services might well be required by the very weak and deathly-sick
Father Antonio of Malta. Therefore Father Joseph asked Father Carlo if he would stay here and care for
Father Antonio della Terza until he got better.
He made every possible excuse, however, and finally Father Joseph sought refuge with me.
He said that he had intended to take me as his companion to Rome,
but that he was now asking me not to leave this poor, oppressed,
deathly-sick brother, but to stand by him in his hour of extremity.
He asked me to do this for the love of God and the holy rule of our order,
which obligates one to attend such a sick person as one would himself
wish to be cared for.
He assured me that he would supply me with all necessities, so that
if the sick man did not linger and the caravan had not yet crossed the
Bayuda desert, after his departure from this world I could take my
dromedary and join it.
If his death did not come for some time, I should make my way back
to our two missionaries in Sinnar.
To this end he would give me the provision money for a whole year
that the Congregation de Propaganda Fide gives out to each one.
I did not refuse this request, especially as a sick brother was concerned.
I went at once into the town to Faqih Mahmud, a wealthy man who,
on account of my medicine, was my very good friend.
I asked him for advice as to how I should go about obtaining a comfortable dwelling
for my money where my sick friend could lodge.
Because he knew that I had great influence with his king he freely offered,
with great courtesy, to give us one of his own houses along with a slave to
serve us. Such goodheartedness should bring blushes to the cheeks of many Christians,
who not only begrudge support to foreigners and sick people,
but drive them away with hard and rough words.
I returned with great contentment to my sorely troubled companions.
Father Joseph gave me five ounces of gold, along with that which the
Abyssinian emperor had given Father Antonio della Terza as a parting gift.
On the twenty-fifth [of June 1702] I brought the sick man into the town of
Arbaji to the dwelling of Faqih Mahmud.
He gave us an enclosed place which [p. 361] had a large court with a small
house in it, a slave to attend us and the two dromedaries we had with us,
along with two dogs to stand watch at night so that we would not be
attacked by Arabs and murderers.
On the twenty-sixth [of June 1702] Father Joseph, Father Carlo and the seven
Moorish lads came to our dwelling.
Father Antonio of Malta, who was still unwell, remained with the caravan.
There we said our farewells and goodbys--not without deep sorrow--and then
they continued their journey.
My patient became so sick and weak, and his diarrhea increased so much
that I had neither sleep nor rest by night or day.
I decided to send a trustworthy man with our two dromedaries to Sinnar,
to report to Father Pasquale and Father Benedetto the difficult
situation in which our beloved Father Antonio della Terza found himself,
and to ask that since I had to stay with him alone, at least one of them
should also come to us in Arbaji so that we could take turns caring for the
On the first of July  Father Benedetto da Tripalda came to us
about an hour after sunset. Even though it had been a journey of
more than thirty German miles, he had completed it on my dromedary
within eighteen hours.
This unaccustomedly hard riding had so exhausted him that he was
stricken with a new and heavy diarrhea and flow of blood;
within three days he was completely tired out and drained of strength.
This made me extremely unhappy.
Although I now had two sick men to tend instead of one,
I did not lose heart, but addressed them with the following words:
Father Antonio became weaker and weaker, so that on the fourth [of July 1702]
he could no longer raise his head from the pillow.
His diarrhea had increased day by day, and since I could no longer
carry him from the bed I cut a hole in it so that nature could
take its course.
Each one may imagine for himself the difficulties I had by night and day.
I had to go to the market and purchase everything,
then feed my dear patients as one would feed a child,
and at all times keep a continuous vigil over their illnesses.
I got very little sleep or none at all,
so that more than once the patients begged me to take it easy;
they thanked me a thousand times for such great services
Each said that when he came before the face of God his first prayer
would be for me.
Although Father Benedetto was a little better,
I refused to let him take care of my deathly sick companion,
to watch him by night or endure other inconveniences.
I took the whole responsibility upon myself.
On the eighth [of July 1702] he did not look good to me at all, and so I
urged him to confess, (though before his departure from Sinnar he had
been administered all the sacraments.)
He did this, then fell into a heavy sweat and could not get
He asked me for a drink of water, but because I saw that death
was staring him in the face, and that he might choke on it,
I urged him to have patience until the great sweat was past.
I did not wish to shorten his life thusly.
I reminded him of the great thirst that our Savior Christ Jesus
endured while on the holy cross; at the end of this he cried out
as loudly and strongly as he could, sitio mi Jesu, sitio,
that is, "I thirst, my Jesus, I thirst!"
With these words he fell back on the bed, and after a
quarter of an hour gave up his spirit to Almighty God.
May he rest in holy peace.
After his death I went directly to the market square and bought a piece of
white linen in which I enshrouded him as we had Father Antonio Paoletti
the Jesuit in Sinnar. I then sought to engage a few slaves or Barabra
to dig a grave.
No one was willing to do it; they said that it was not seemly
for a Muslim to bury an unbeliever or heretic--for such they considered us to be.
Finally I went to Faqih Mahmud and told him of the death of Father
Antonio. I asked him to do me the favor of ordering some slaves or Barabra to bury
Father Antonio, for which I would gladly pay whatever they desired.
This was difficult, but he finally took pity on us and sent six men,
some slaves and others Barabra, with whom I negotiated for the burial.
This was to be a good quarter hour outside the town toward the east. I was to
pay them half an ounce of gold to dig the grave and carry the body out to it.
Two hours before sundown I accompanied the corpse to the grave.
I was completely alone, as Father Benedetto was still very weak and
stayed in the house. [p. 364] The Moors placed the body beside
the grave and then stood back.
I besought them with all I had to place the body in the grave and help
cover it, but all that I promised them was in vain.
They said that they did not want a large sum of money,
nor would they violate the law of their great Prophet and polute
themselves by touching an unbelieving dog.
Therefore I was forced to do it myself, and to let the body down
into the deep grave as well as I could without any help.
I removed the clean carpet in which he was wrapped and slid him
into the earth from the `anqarib.
(This was the bed where he died--simply a frame of four poles
with four wooden legs, and laced with thongs of camel leather.
It is used as a place to lie by even the well-to-do in
I then took him under the shoulders and let him down.
But his upper body was too heavy for me; I lost my balance,
and he fell with full force crosswise into the depths of the grave.
I thought he would be broken into pieces.
At this the heartless Moors laughed.
In my great shock I did not know what to do; finally I climbed down into
the grave with the corpse and straightened him out as best I could.
As soon as I got back to the house I asked Father Benedetto out of love
to stay with me until the jallabs, of whom there were still some
present, set off to join the great caravan.
I had decided to join them in order to carry out fully the
instructions of Father Joseph.
He gave me his consent, saying that we would want to spend the remaining time
in camera charitatis.
A little after sunset as we were eating our evening meal there came a
courier on a dromedary. He had ridden from Sinnar inside of
sixteen hours bringing a letter to Father Benedetto from Father Pasquale.
It said that he should come immediately if he wanted to see him alive
again, for he had been stricken with a heavy, feverish illness, and no
longer had thought or hope of coming through alive.
We were so shaken by this unlooked-for distressing news that
Father Benedetto released a whole brook of tears and could not cease
crying. Although this report [p. 365] went to my heart no less than
his, I acted completely unafffected.
I comforted him with all my strength, and I promised him that
if he desired I would ride back to Sinnar with him and take good
care of him and Father Pasquale, even if it should cost me my life.
He thanked me for this, but said that we could not know how
Father Antonio of Malta and our other missionaries were faring on the
journey, and that everyone knew how much I wanted to go to Rome
with Father Joseph.
With this I was quite content.
Father Benedetto then said the following words:
"It seems that God in his great mercy does not wish to relieve us
poor missionaries in these barbaric lands with any consolation.
(That much one could infer abundantly from everything that I have
written!) But our thoughts must strike higher; we must believe
beyond a doubt that we will receive the reward for the tribulations
we have endured in the world to come."
With this we consoled ourselves, and continued our discourse until deep into the night.
I gave Father Antonio's dromedary and clothing to Father Benedetto but
I kept with me the letter to Your Papal Holiness that
the Ethiopian emperor had given to the deceased Father Antonio.
This was according to the instructions that he had given to me before
his death; should I come to Rome, I was to place it into the
hands of Your Papal Holiness myself.
On the ninth [of July 1702] after many farewells Father Benedetto
and the courier set off at daybreak.
Scarcely had two days passed when, while I was deeply asleep in the
middle of the night, six Arabs with lances climbed over the wall
into my dwelling.
They were intending to kill me and take everything that I had with me.
But because the two watchdogs barked loudly,
I awoke from sleep.
When I saw three Arabs already in the courtyard and three more on the wall
I was more than a little terrified,
but I put on the heart of a German hero and leaped up from the ground.
(I was lying next to the door of the house under the open sky,
as I have done on all my travels through Africa.)
I seized my two pistols from the room, placed myself even more boldly
than I felt, and ordered them to get out at once;
if they did not, most would die.
When they saw my firearms (I threw the flintlock and my sword onto the bed)
they were a little uneasy, but since I saw that they still wanted to attack me,
I [p. 366] fired away with one pistol, sending a ball whistling among them.
At this they became so terrified that they at once threw in the towel
and climbed back over the wall.
This gave me time to load the pistol again, though
only with pellets. With the other pistol, which was loaded with ball,
I fired again over their heads in order to terrify them further.
At this shot they finally ran away, but I fired after them
with the pellet-loaded pistol anyway.
I seem to have hit one of them,
curing them forever of their murderous intentions.
On the twelfth [of July 1702] everyone, and especially Faqih Mahmud,
asked me what the nightime shooting in my house had meant.
I told them the whole course of events from beginning to end.
They replied that I had God to thank for my escape from such
an obviously mortal peril,
and that if I had not fired, I would without question have been killed.
I should not be trusting, for they might dare to attempt an attack
again. Faqih Mahmud supplied me with two strong slaves armed with
lances to [stay with me] by day and sleep beside me at night.
On the fourteenth [of July 1702] the Arabs again came at midnight.
As before, they were betrayed by the dogs, after which we again
drove them off with arms in hand and with the discharge of the
pistols and the flintlock.
There is nothing that the Arabs fear more than shooting,
for they believe that one shot can drop very many men.
On the fifteenth [of July 1702] the merchants advised me to take
my baggage to a secure place and to sleep in another house,
for the Arabs would never be content until they killed me.
A rich and noble Turk of Makkan birth,
whom I had cured of a fever during my stay here,
offered me his own home for this purpose.
I accepted with thanks, and thus put myself out of all danger.
On the nineteenth [of July 1702] the son of the viceroy,
named Shaykh Idris, arrived here.
I visited him and asked how things stood with Father Pasquale.
To this he replied inshallah tayyib,
meaning "would to God that he were well."
From this I concluded that he was either dead or very dangerously sick.
Such was indeed the case, for I learned later that
Father Pasquale had exchanged the temporal for the eternal
on the twenty-fourth of this month. [p. 367]
May he rest in holy peace.
How the good Father Benedetto must feel now I will let each one
calculate and keep in mind.
The shaykh wanted passionately to take me with him to Qarri,
where he had been sent by the king, and defray all my expenses.
He was very fond of me, for with God's support I had rid him of a deadly
illness. For certain reasons I thanked him greatly for this
gracious offer, but declined.
On the twentieth [of July 1702] the jallabs here, of which there
were eight, let me know that they intended to set off from here the day
after tomorrow very early to go to the caravan; if I wished to go with them I should
prepare myself for the journey.
I did so.
On the twenty-fourth [of July 1702] we crossed the river, and camped
that night in Mugascha.
Each of these merchants had with him about twenty camels,
and not many fewer male and female slaves to be sold in Egypt.
The merchandise that they carried consisted of elephants' teeth, tamarind, gum Arabic,
ebony wood, leather, squinanten-tobacco and gold,
all of which may be sold in Egypt at a great profit.
On the twenty-seventh [of July 1702] we were at Paschadara.
On the twenty-eighth [of July 1702] we came to Halfaya, where
before sunset, after we had pitched camp, a very strong wind
arose. It blew the sand and dust into the air above us in such
quantity that it turned day into night.
It was so dark that one could not see a person nearby.
Everyone ran to catch the camels and hold them so that they
could not escape.
I stood with my camel among the others.
I was in great danger, for in such situations [my camel] became
very uneasy, refusing to stand still in one place, and wanting
only to run away.
I could not see the camel standing next to me on account of the
sand and dust which the wind hurled in heaps into my face and eyes.
This strong wind was followed by an even heavier downpour,
that left not a dry rag on our bodies and soaked everything
we had not brought into the tents.
On the twenty-first [sic; the twenty-ninth of July 1702] we rode as
far as Subaichen, and came
on the first of August  to Qarri.
We met two other jallabs who said to us that the caravan was still
waiting at Treira, but was ready any day to enter the Bayuda
desert from there.
We had no time to lose if we wanted [p. 368] to
join it for the crossing of the desert.
On the second [of August 1702] we remained here in order to strengthen ourselves
and our camels to better endure the great rigors of the heat of the sun
and pass the desert more easily.
On the third [of August 1702] we crossed the river with our camels.
Because we were afraid that the caravan might set out before our arrival,
I rode off today about noon with our dromedaries and two Barabra,
one of whom had been our servant when we came to Sinnar.
We rode so hard that within eight hours we were nearing Treira,
though it is a route about fifteen German miles long.
After sunset the hard motion [of the ride]
gave me such a stomach ache and cramps
in my body that I was forced to get down
from the dromedary and to writhe
and twist here and there on the ground like a worm.
Never in my life have I endured greater pain than this.
It seemed impossible for me to take one more step.
After half an hour, as I lay exhausted on the ground,
the two Barabra told me that we were close to the caravan.
They wanted to travel on very slowly;
at this I mounted my dromedary, and in truth we came to the
caravan and our missionaries within two hours.
They showed great joy at my arrival, but were
very sorry to have to see me in such a miserable condition.
I at once had wormwood oil brought from my trunk, with which
I salved my whole lower body until it was warm.
At this I at once experienced a considerable easing of the pain.
After midnight the stomach ache and cramps began again,
along with strong diarrhea, and this went on for
two whole days and nights.
I passed nothing but pure blood and matter, from which
I concluded that I must have had an apostem on the
right side between my lungs and liver, which had ruptured
due to the movement of such heavy riding.
This was not without basis, for ever since the severe illness
which I had survived in Qarri
I had been short of breath on the right side,
and had suffered continual thirst.
All this now came to an end, God be praised, and
left me in such a state of health that I felt newly born.
When I told our missionaries what had befallen me,
Father Antonio, Father Benedetto and [p. 369] Father Pasquale,
they showed me heartfelt sympathy with outpouring of tears.
Yet God the Almighty must have ordained it all.
Today, as on the two days of my illness,
the noblest men of the caravan came to visit me,
and they expressed the greatest sympathy.
Among others there came the Tubatschi, a noble Egyptian Turk whom
fortunately I had cured of a fiery fever in Sinnar.
He had his own dwelling here, which he had paid for,
in order to avoid being scorched by the unbearable heat of the sun.
Because I had performed such a fine cure for him in Sinnar,
and refused the money he offered for it, he very courteously
invited me to join him in his house and board.
My Superior was very pleased to consent to that, for I would be better
cared for, and so I stayed with him until the caravan set off.
I think that in all the world no nation could be found that is more thankful
for good deeds received than are the Turks.
On the sixth [of August 1702] `Abdin, the guide and commander of the
caravan, had all the jallabs called together before sundown
by the customary beating of the kettledrum.
After prayers, they placed themselves in a circle on the bare earth,
with feet crossed over each other, and he made a speech concerning
the four following points.
Firstly, tomorrow he intended that they should enter the very dangerous
Bayuda desert, full of Arabs and rebellious subjects,
Inshallah, that is, "If God wills."
(The Turks use this word in regard to all future things and intentions.)
Because the enemy was very strong each and every one should fight and
defend themselves well with weapons; if there was an encounter,
they should fight and defend themselves like knights to the last man.
To this they bound themselves by their customary oath, wa-Allahi,
that is, "by God!"
Then he ordered the caravan, which was more than two thousand five
hundred camels strong and could offer stiff resistance to the enemy,
that they should not separate far from each other, but
should rather march at all times together.
Finally, he added that if one or another of the jallabs was
not completely ready for the journey he should openly say so,
so that everyone could help him and he would not be prevented
from making the journey.
Under such circumstances no one abandons his fellow.
Everyone assented to this speech, and so that nothing
would be missing they prayed, and then returned to their lodgings
to the beat of the kettledrum. [p. 370]
During the time that the jallabs were staying here
the shaykh of Qarri, who was staying not far from this place,
several times sent a mursal to the caravan with orders
that I should go to him.
He wanted to give me a present as a suitable reward for my
faithful service during his illness.
I thanked God that I was not with the caravan, so that I did not
have to say anything through which he might have diverted himself
with me and delayed my departure until the caravan had entered the
I would have had to remain with him as a slave, without hope of
being useful to the mission, for God only knows how long.
On the seventh [of August 1702] we set off at break of day and entered the
most dangerous desert.
On the tenth [of August 1702] we arrived safely at Bayuda, which is the
place where one finds water.
A ciceronian orator could not have expressed the great heat we have endured
on this journey, for we were in this desert during the month of August
while the sun was at its highest.
The heat burned everything, nor did the slightest little breeze blow;
everything was melting.
In the whole month of our journey not as many camels and Moors
became sick and died as during the last four days--and especially
the poor slaves, who had to go on foot.
Many of them, already in ill health as a result of this long and
difficult journey, died.
The Moors in these lands do not treat their slaves as human beings,
but worse than unreasoning beasts.
I saw many with my own eyes and it moved me to great sympathy;
they are bound and fettered together with great heavy chains,
They must march behind the camels to which they are fastened for the whole journey.
Others were fastened with wooden poles hanging from the neck,
about ten feet long and as thick as a slender arm.
These are bound behind with thongs of camel leather so that they cannot
slide their heads through.
The two hands are locked together by iron rings to the pole,
which is then fastened to a camel with a chain.
The poor wretches must follow after the camels over hill and
vale, through bushes and brush, thistles and thorns,
whether the camel goes
fast or slowly, stands still or runs.
They [are] barefoot, with uncovered heads and wearing nothing on the body
except a rag to conceal somewhat the private parts--this in the greatest heat [p. 371] and dying of
hunger and thirst at the same time.
At night they are without pity locked up tighter than by day.
If a slave falls sick along the way they throw him or her over a camel
no differently than a butcher throws a calf across his saddle bow,
until they finally go to pieces and are abandoned half dead in the desert.
On the ninth [of August 1702] I baptized one of these, a five-year-old girl,
who died soon thereafter.
(One should note that all the children I baptized were born Turks
and not Abyssinians.)
The Bayuda desert had appeared fair to us upon entering it for the first time,
for then, because it was shortly after the rainy season and the earth
was yet damp, everything was in bloom and covered with the most
beautiful and fragrant flowers and healing greens.
On account of the great heat, which had dried everything out,
we now saw it barren and dead.
On the eleventh [of August 1702] we let the camels, horses, mules and donkeys
drink to their content, after digging out some very murky, stinking water.
On account of the great heat during this month they have to endure greater
thirst than in the winter time, when they were watered only every eight
or ten days, or even longer.
We were busy the whole day digging for water.
Many say that the equinoctal line begins in these deserts,
while others say that it is nearer to Sinnar.
I agree with the latter opinion.
On the twelfth [of August 1702] we rode off at eight o'clock, after
having refreshed the animals again with water.
On the fifteenth [of August 1702] we came to Korti.
These last four days we have left twice as many men and camels behind us dead
than before we entered the Bayuda from Treira.
This water, whose properties I have described in the account of my first
crossing, so ruined us that we were more dead than alive.
In Korti we stayed no longer than a day, and then continued
our march under the unbearable heat of the sun.
We dared not travel at night for fear of falling into the hands
of the enemy.
It was not until the twenty-fourth [of August 1702] that we came to Dongola,
since because of the great heat we could not make as long a journey
each day as we had the first time.
On the twenty-sixth [of August 1702] I crossed the river into the city,
which lay on the other side, with the royal merchants and the Egyptian
I went to wait upon the king, whom I knew very well from Qarri;
he was there during the time I was curing the [p. 372] shaykh.
I also brought him our letter to read that the king of Sinnar
had given us, and the Tubatschi and the royal merchants had similar ones.
He showed us great honor and promised to stand by us in everything
we needed. This came to pass, for he sent us fodder enough for all
our camels, and a fine sheep for us.
On that day he would not let us leave, and we had our noon meal with him.
The banquet consisted of a large wooden bowl of kisra, which is their bread,
and it was covered with broth and much meat.
In it lay also a whole ring of chickens, though they are not as large
as in our lands.
We all sat in a circle with crossed legs and ate this royal banquet with
our hands without knife and fork.
After this there was brought out to us a bowl of chopped raw lungs, liver, spleen,
heart, stomach and tripe, well seasoned with salt, pepper, onions and the
creature's gall--this was the greatest delicacy--and a bowl full of dates.
I ate my fill.
This royal banquet concluded with a drink of water flavored with honey.
In the evening we were feasted royally again, but alone.
O beloved Germany! How fortunate you are, and how little you realize it.
On the twenty-seventh [of August 1702] I rode off from here to one of the janissaries
of the Tubatschi, who had served the two blessed deceased Jesuit Fathers
who traveled with us from Cairo to Ethiopia.
His name was `Abd Allah, which in German means "servant of God."
I went to visit him to arrange for bringing my medicine trunk to Cairo for
a certain price.
Because this `Abd Allah was not home I had to spend the night there,
for he arrived only after sundown.
That night I suffered a great attack by the Moors and Arabs here,
who wanted to kill me by force as an enemy of their false law.
I was not frightened by this at all, but rather heartened.
The janissary `Abd Allah and his friends took my part with such vigor that
both parties would soon have been embroiled in a bloody combat, had our
opponents not calmed down.
That night the river Nile overflowed so greatly that it covered almost all the land.
Therefore we made ready to travel very early, in order not to be shut in
by the water. [p. 373] `Abd Allah guided us along a path suitable for
the purpose of escaping the water, but we had to wade clumsily through
ditches and fields covered with water, leading our dromedaries by
the reins. Our outer clothing we tied to them.
Not far from Dongola, however, which lies somewhat lower, we were completely
locked in by the water.
Because we were in uninhabited land and had a deep ditch before us
we did not know what to do or where to get help.
We had to reach a speedy and dangerous decision; we stripped to
our shirts and sleeping hose, and pushed on through in the name of the Lord.
I let the janissary go ahead on the right, while I veered toward the left.
We had scarcely gone fifteen paces when the water half covered our bodies,
and the earth, [once] completely dessicated from the heat of the sun,
but now soaked through by the great flood, sank beneath our feet.
We could have endured this patiently, if we could only have kept
the camels marching behind us.
But as soon as the water reached their bellies they could not get a
foothold, nor pull their feet out of the sticky, clay-like mud.
This caused my camel to fall down in the middle of the ditch,
so that everything I had on it fell into the water.
I would not have minded that if I could have put some life into my camel;
I tried every conceivable means to help him to his feet again, and spent a considerable
time doing so.
But nothing would work.
Meanwhile the janissary had crossed the ditch, and after binding
the front two feet of his camel, he came into the ditch to help me.
We worked for more than a quarter hour to help the camel out,
partly with urging and partly with blows--but all was in vain.
Then I sought refuge more mightily than at the beginning in
the miracle working power of Saint Anthony.
Through his special and always abundantly comforting intercession we
were freed from this great misfortune, and
to our amazement reached the caravan in the afternoon.
On the twenty-eighth [of August 1702] we headed off toward Mushu through the desert,
in order to avoid being stuck completely in the water. We set our course
to the left, over toward the elevated and ininhabited places, out of fear
of plunging into the water.
It was a miserable ride, considering the great heat and the stony and
sandy path, which weakened and tired out the camels.
But we [p. 374] pushed on with our daily journey,
though we could not make it a long one.
All this time we thought we would collapse for lack of the necessary food.
On the ninth of September  as we were marching toward Khandaq,
and had to pass over very rough paths and mountains, my camel fell
with me while riding up a rocky mountain.
It was about two o'clock in the afternoon.
[I was thrown] far back onto the stones behind,
so that everyone thought I had smashed my head on them.
This might well have happened had I not been wearing my Turkish turban.
Even so I got a dent in my head.
At first I was so full of shock and pain that it was only after I
recovered a little and pulled myself up with my tired limbs
that I realized that I had not only a dent in my head,
but had also completely broken my right arm,
so that the bone pierced the flesh and Turkish clothing on my body.
At this I fell down in a faint.
Father Joseph and Father Carlo, who were not far from me,
came at once to my aid.
They rubbed me with balsam and water, at which I regained
After that I placed myself on the ground with my legs crossed and
had a Barbarin pull hard on my arm until I thought the broken
bone was in place.
(Father Carlo and Father Joseph could not do this, out of sympathy,
but cut a few little wooden sticks.)
Then as best I could I put the shattered bone into its place
with my left hand and wrapped the bare arm with a fatzilet.
I put the pieces of wood on it and tied the limb round about with my
Turkish turban, which I loosed from my head.
For lack of time, and because we were in a strange place,
I could make neither poultice nor plaster, much less open a vein.
I could only commend myself to Almighty God and prepare to travel on.
I placed myself on a donkey, and a Barbarin led it.
I held my broken arm in its sling with my left hand as best I could, but
because of the great pain and fainting it was only possible for me to
ride for about half an hour.
Then I eased myself down from the donkey and went on foot,
but that so exhausted me that I resolved to go by camel again.
Our Barabra made it kneel [p. 375], tying the front feet so that it could not rise
until they so desired, and then placed me on top of it.
When I felt secure in the saddle I told them to free the camel
and let him stand up, which they did.
This unreasoning beast then went so gradually and softly with me
from then on that one would have thought it had sense and reason
in bearing its wounded and deathly weak master.
Then we rode two whole hours to Khandaq.
What sort of pain, weakness and fainting I endured with unshaken courage during this
time, each one may consider for himself.
When we came into camp I had a few fresh eggs brought from the town.
Father Joseph's trunk was opened, and I took out mastic, frankincense,
terra sigillata, bolum armeni, sanguinem draconis
and pulverized pomegranate flowers.
I mixed all these in the well-beaten whites of the eggs,
dipped in a little bit of spirits for this purpose, and poured it
over my extremely painfully set arm.
I bound it again into its proper place with small sticks which Father Joseph
knotted together with cords at intervals about a finger wide above and below.
In a few hours my whole arm and hand were swollen,
which caused me such indescribable pain
that I could not close an eye all night.
I could not move or bend the arm without help, much less raise myself
from the ground.
On the tenth [of September 1702] the caravan had a rest day,
but I searched my conscience and
prepared myself through confession for death--as best I could.
On the twelfth [of September 1702] we made a daily journey of eight hours.
The weakness, swelling and pain increased from hour to hour so that
I had no hope but to leave my arm--and with it my body--under the
earth in these deserts.
On the thirteenth [of September 1702] we continued our march
throughout the day.
On the fourteenth [of September 1702] we had a day of rest.
I took off the first plaster from the broken arm and put on a new one,
since it had been moved my the continual motion caused by the unceasing travel. [p. 376]
I set the bone again to its proper place with the help of Father Joseph and Father
Antonio; this was accompanied by great pain and fainting, just as the first time.
Then I put on my mummy plaster, made a sling out of wool, and bound it on.
Before my departure from Cairo I bought a few pounds of mumia,
which is embalmed human flesh.
I soaked it in oil, drew off the extract, and pressed it
through a cloth.
Then I mixed it with pulveres adstringentes, mastic
and frankincense, and dissolved gummi elami.
I made of this a plaster to serve in the unwished-for case
of a broken bone.
Within eight days this plaster completely healed the wound where
the bone came out, and without any festering.
On the fifteenth [of September 1702] we again made a considerable journey.
God knows the pain I suffered, but I endured it with patience and
resignation, in submission to the will of God.
No one can imagine it or fancy it, except one who has either
experienced such a broken limb himself or by virtue of his profession
cured one. It is between him and me [alone], though there is the
difference that he would have enjoyed every conceivable heart strengthener
and helping hand, while I had to endure this great infirmity in these
hot and barbarous lands, without necessary food, with my sleep
interrupted, lying at night on the bare earth, riding the whole day
in great pain, and with other inconceivable difficulties.
But in spite of it all I did not let my courage and great hope
in God sink in the least.
On the twentieth [of September 1702] we arrived in Mushu, the last place
in the kingdom of Nubia.
It is pleasant, but very run-down.
The caravan had lost at least a third of its camels;
more had died on this journey than in the whole time
we spent [traveling] from Egypt to Sinnar.
This was caused by the great heat and the lack of fodder and its high price.
We were compelled to spend at least a few weeks here,
partly to obtain necessary provisions before entering the high, long desert,
and partly to let our camels rest up.
[They were] worn out and totally unready to continue so difficult a journey,
though good care would restore their strength.
Primarily we needed to replace the camels that had died;
finally, we also wished to inform ourselves as to whether the [p. 377] Arabs were still
staying in al-Wah, or whether the Kashif of Manfalut had either driven
them away by forcing a battle, or made peace with them.
On the twenty-second [of September 1702] Father Carlo Maria of Genoa
was overtaken by an attack and a light fever such as I had the first
time at Qarri. It erupted into a great swelling on the first finger
of his right hand.
Within a few days the swelling, inflamation and pain so increased
that I feared he would lose the whole hand.
I had to cover it with
unguentum mucilaginis and altheae mixed together
until I brought it to its term, but in the meantime I
could not put my hand to it because of my broken arm.
It then burst, emitting an evil-smelling yellow matter, sharp like
This gave me no good impression of his prospects for a
Various pits next appeared on his fingers and hand.
It looked as if cancer had been eating at him.
I put balsam of Innocent XI on the fresh and living flesh
to preserve it, and applied praecipitato to clear away the
flesh that was dead or eating itself.
I mixed it with unguentum apostolorum so that it would
not torment the patient too much.
This made rather fresh flesh, but so increased the pain of our
patient that it made me doubt but that he would lose both his hand
and his life.
I never saw anything like this in Christendom, but it is not
uncommon in the kingdoms of Nubia and the Funj.
The Moors call this disease mal`un, which means "the accursed"
in their language.
They have no other method of curing it but to burn the nerves that
appertain to the infected part not far from the place where it
arises with a red-hot iron until a yellow water flows out.
If this is not done it eats from one member to another so that many
must pay with their lives.
Father Pasquale, before he went to Ethiopia, and the Moors also,
told me for my information the manner in which to contain this
disease in every case.
For this reason my first advice was to apply the flaming Arabic plaster.
At first the patient refused this, but in the end, as it could
not be otherwise, he had to let it happen.
On the twenty-third [of September 1702] I applied a glowing iron close to the
juncture of the hand [p. 378], the remedy told about above.
[It caused] almost unbearable pain, to be sure, but at least it worked
to the extent that he did not lose his whole hand.
I was unable to supervise this cure myself because I suffered
indescribably unbearable pain in my arm night and day.
So I ordered Father Antonio of Malta to prepare and apply the cure.
This he did with the greatest love and carefulness,
though not without my foreknowledge.
On the twenty-fourth [of September 1702] in Mushu I baptized a Turkish boy
about six years old.
On the following day he died.
On the twenty-fifth [of September 1702] the caravan prepared to depart.
There were, however, two parties.
The first resolved not to leave here until it was certain that the Arabs had left al-Wah,
which is a place in the desert and has already been discussed,
and made their peace with the Turks.
The other faction put their trust in God and their false Prophet,
saying that all was predestined by God.
It was already a "written" matter (they call this maktub in Arabic) as
to whether the Arabs would be the victors and winners, or whether they
would be left defeated and dead.
Most Turks ascribe all fortune and misfortune, and indeed all that passes
between heaven and earth, to God and their treacherous lawgiver Muhammad.
They maintain that it has been foreordained from eternity and inscribed in the book of God.
This [faction] was resolved to enter the high desert in a few days in
the name of God and their false Prophet.
The first party sought to dissuade them by all conceivable means,
but they would hear nothing of remaining here.
The tempers of both factions became so embittered that it might easily
have ended in a bloody exchange of lances,
and the royal merchants, the Tubatschi and we had our hands full
in trying to prevent it.
Every day people hold general meetings and councils concerning the
[The air] vibrates continually with great dissention and disunity.
Most of the jallabs were in such a state of misery and want
due to the loss of so many camels and the purchase and maintenance of new ones
that they were forced to sell their wares, slaves and other belongings for a joke.
It went so far that they bartered even their lances, their one weapon with which to oppose
their enemies, to obtain food for their camels.
Some of them, with the loss of their camels, were forced to leave their wares in
the care of the Barabra.
[p. 379] On the third [of October 1702] one of our camels died, in addition
to which we had four others completely ruined by their great torments and the
heat. We traded these to the Arabs for two good ones, and for two ounces
of gold purchased two more even finer and stronger ones.
The want and raging sickness in the caravan increased from day to day;
all the jallabs had long faces and black thoughts.
The Barabra who inhabit this place, on the other hand, were
getting along rather nicely, for they could buy wares as good as any in Sinnar
from our needy and suffering caravan at prices very advantageous
Today I encountered a remarkable case.
The Moors brought to me a slave who seemed to be about thirty years old,
who said that he did not feel well.
I looked at his cavernous eyes and running nose, took his pulse,
and concluded that he would not live another hour.
When I told them that they laughed at me and went off.
Very soon, however, their laughter turned into a great howling and crying,
for after about half an hour the slave, while still talking to them,
very suddenly died and sank to the ground without showing any other signs.
Meanwhile most of the caravan had decided anew to enter the desert even though
they were unsure if the Arabs had left al-Wah, so that they might
fall prey to them with the loss of all they possessed including their lives.
[This decision was taken] because of the hunger that increased from moment to moment
among the caravan, especially for those who could not obtain food.
They advised that we should accelerate the march.
This caused great consternation among those who had so long advised not to enter the high desert
until certain tidings were received that the enemies had left it.
They considered the weakening that would be incurred by the loss of
so large a detachment; not even the slightest enemy attack could be resisted.
Therefore the whole caravan was summoned to a general council, and
the royal merchants from Sinnar decreed that whoever moved from here before
confirmation of the security of the roads would be declared a rebel
against the king.
But these turbulent people did not wish to consent to that,
but held to this little Arabic word maktub, [p. 380]
"it is written in the Book of God" whether one dies in this manner
or in some other.
No human knowledge can escape it.
Since there was no way to persuade them that they should not make
such a harmful breakup of the caravan, there arose a great schism.
It would have taken only a little to
bring them against each other with weapons in hand.
I let every Christian man consider how we felt in such a
difficult, miserable and dangerous situation.
We would gladly have paid double or triple for food,
but could obtain none.
Meat from the camels that died was our choicest portion;
we salted it and dried it out in the sun.
As long as we had it, we enjoyed it.
On the seventh [of October 1702] the caravan decided to send out two Arabs or Barabra
with sufficient provisions and a fair amount of money to go through the desert
on their dromedaries and spy out the situation,
to see if the Arabs had left al-Wah,
and whether they were in a position to offer resistance to such a large,
though totally exhausted and weak caravan.
Although they had this sentiment or resolution
announced to the beat of kettledrums,
not one out of all of them wanted to put the plan into action.
(One should note that such spies, if they fell into the hands of the Arabs,
would be skinned alive.)
This brought the caravan to an impasse again, and resulted in a new and
great dissention between the two parties.
I can truthfully say that one could not easily find
a more miserable life than this that we endured here.
Man and beast were so wasted by hunger and worn out that they seemed
more dead than alive.
There were many jallabs among us who had led twenty camels
or even more from Sinnar, but who now had but a quarter or a third.
Some had died, others were useless for further service due to lack
of forage and the carrying of double loads.
Two, thrree or even four of them could be exchanged with the
Arabs for one good one.
Among others there was a certain Turk from Cairo in our caravan who had marched
out of Sinnar with fourteen camels and had lost them all. He was
forced to entrust his wares to a Barbarin here until he could come to get them another
year. Since he could not go on foot he bought himself a donkey,
and took service with the royal jallabs to earn his maintenance.
On the fifteenth [of October 1702] there came a few Barabra on foot [p. 381]
to our caravan from Cairo.
They wore nothing but a tattered shirt on their bodies, to keep from being robbed.
They had made their way through the land of their enemies, passing through
the inhabited places along the river Nile to avoid the detour of
about one hundred German miles through the desert.
[The "enemies"] had given them sustenance and lodging at night,
thinking them to be poor.
They brought the caravan the happiest news; the rebellious Arabs
had left al-Wah, and made a respectable peace settlement with the Turks
of Egypt in return for the evacuation of several inhabited places.
At this the half-dead caravan took heart again,
and received the comforting news with the greatest joy.
They at once assembled all the jallabs and others of the caravan
(except the slaves) with the beating of the kettledrums.
Then `Abdin the commander, who was a royal jallab and our
caravan guide, told them of this
heart-and-courage-strengthening joyful news.
Though they had been downcast before, they now began
to sing the praises of God and their false Prophet in a loud, clear voice:
la ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah.
After this they decided to enter the desert very soon,
and resolved not to [prepare the camels] by giving them water to drink only
every two days, as was otherwise customary.
This accustomed them gradually to thirst and made it easier to go
through the desert.
On the seventeenth [of October 1702] the whole caravan led their camels to the river
Nile, which was not far from our camp, and let them drink to their
hearts' content. Because the inhabitants of this kingdom of Nubia did not wish
to see us depart so soon--they had very great profit and use of us--the
governor of this place wanted to levy a new tribute from each camel that did not belong
to one of his countrymen.
The Egyptian and other foreign merchants resolutely refused to do this;
we said that we would gladly do it if the others did.
This dispute and argument between the two parties became so great that
on the nineteenth [of October 1702] it broke out into a bloody encounter.
The governor came to the caravan on a fine Arabian horse.
His whole costume consisted of a dirty and greasy shirt bound with a
long, wide sash of the same sort.
In his hand he carried a broad, long executioner's [p. 382] sword
not unlike a cutlass.
His bodyguard consisted of six slaves on foot carrying lances in
their hands, and a large number of his subjects and Arabs armed
with lances and sabres followed after him.
They demanded with arrogant and angry words to know whether
we were going to give them the tribute or not.
At this everyone involved in the conflict (everyone except us)
gathered quickly together with lances, sabres, pistols and muskets.
They gave the governor and his hangers-on to know that since they were not inclined
in the slightest to give him anything, they might as well leave.
Thus they thought to drive them away by intimidation.
This war of words continued to increase for some time,
until finally one of the janissaries of the Tubatschi
could stand this insulting talk no longer.
In order to put an end to the business he drew his sword and delivered a
considerable blow to the head of one of the governor's slaves,
splitting his skull.
This insured that the fight would not begin with a lance [of one
of the governor's slaves; that is, the caravan struck the first blow].
Then they went to it with a great cry, each one preparing himself to strike.
The battle was very sharp, so that when it was over there were more than
fifty people wounded on either side.
When he saw this the Tubatschi had his horse saddled,
and the royal jallabs did likewise.
They rode in a full charge, armed to the teeth, right up to the
The Tubatschi seized him by the shirt, pulled him from his horse,
and smashed him to the ground.
With that the fight ended.
The Barabra dared not do him or his companions any harm, for many of their
own people in Cairo would pay with their lives [if harm befell] such a nobleman.
In addition, both sides were inflicting wounds that brought harm to
themselves, for every third man among the Barabra was related to
someone in our caravan.
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