chapter  II
Pages 19

AND now being once more, for a limited period, installed in comfortable quarters within four walls, we exchange our soiled, unwashed Oriental travelling gear for that most shapeless decoration of the human frame-the hybrid garb of the Soudan Turk, and sally forth to admire the various attractions of the capital of Soudan. The bazaar, which in Khartum, as in Constantinople and Cairo, constitutes the rendezvous of the merchant and shopkeeper, the idle and busy, was the spot which naturally attracted our curiosity. It was now towards noon, when the vendors of milk, bread, fish, poultry, onions, and garlic, brought their inviting delicacies to the market; and never did I, in all my peregrinations, jostle through such a crowd of semi-naked savages, and breathe such an unclean aroma, as in that strange emporium of African trade. In the motley crowd were to be seen the haughty Turk, the grave Arab, the grinning, thick-lipped negro, the melancholy Galla, and the garrulous representatives of countless tribes

of Bedouins, from the shores of the Red Sea to the deserts of Darfour, and as the majority of this mixed multitude had the greatest contempt for dress, and a passionate fondness for rancid grease, which ran in stagnant and blistering streams down their matted and bushy hair, till everyone glistened and sparkled like a lump of melting tallow, the tout ensemble presented a most savage and repulsive scene. Some of the women in that animated and boisterous bazaar, had really most pleasing, mild, and interesting features. Unlike the custom in other Mohammedan countries, the dark belle of Nubia and Soudan enjoys unbounded liberty; neither a veil, nor the white folds of a cumbrous sheet conceal her soft, lustrous eyes, or impede the elasticity of her graceful step, as she walks along the banks of the river, or brings the produce of the farm to market. If above twelve or thirteen years of age, she wears a long piece of calico, partly around the loins and partly over the shoulder; and if under that age, a mere cincture of tasselled leather is all that encumbers the slender waist and elegant figure. The chief attention of Ethiopia's sallow and copper-coloured maidens is, however, bestowed on the adornment of the head, and in this matter they are as much swayed by fashion as the most fastidious beauty in the Quartier St. Germain, or in the stately saloons of Belgravia. Happily, their fashions are not subject to the caprice of a modiste, or the inventive power of a distinguished beauty. The palace at Karnak, and the tombs of the 'I'heban monarchs, as in times of old so also in the

present day, furnish the approved and orthodox models for the most ambitious friser. Pride has, however, in all countries to pay a penalty for its indulgence. Thus, in Africa, where curl-papers have 110t yet been introduced, the woman whose hair has undergone the tedious process of plaiting, must also, during the night, have it protected from becoming dishevelled; and as this cannot so easily be done in a country where a bullock's hide or a mat form the bed, necessity has contrived a bowl-shaped stool~ in which the neck is wedged, and on this .x substitute for a pillow the vain maiden sleeps in all immovable and most uncomfortable posture during the tedious hours of the long tropical night. In Abyssinia, where the women are particularly proud of their copper-coloured charms, very few, even on a journey and with fifty pounds weight on their backs, will forget to take the wooden pillow and the hollow grease-filled gourd. But besides this, some of the fair sex throughout Nubia and Soudan endeavour to heighten their charms by imparting a blue dye to their hands, feet, lips, and forehead; and this tattooed appearance, which makes her look perfectly hideous, the tawny-visaged beau considers a great addition to the attractions of his inamorata.