MEN SLAVES AT HALF PRICE
The Bedouins still buy and sell slaves, but the
trade is inconsiderable nowadays.
When I was in Cyrenaica on my first visit, in 1916,
I was offered a slave girl for $24; now the girl costs $150. Men are
cheaper—about half price!
Only by the use of the letters from Sayed Idris was
I permitted to remain in Kufra sufficiently long to rest my men and
animals. Despite the intrigues of a faction of Bedouins who were
ill-disposed toward me, the stay in this fertile oasis was full of
interest. It had been visited previously by only three travelers from
the outside world—the German explorer. Rohlfs in 1879, and Mrs. McGrath
(Rosita Forbes) and myself in 1921.
It was during our short halt at Kufra that I
learned for the first time of the
(p253) recent arrival of a French military, reconnaissance party
at Sara well,
which lay on my proposed line of march to Wadai by the beaten trade
A VICTIM OF
THE DESERT: ONE OF THE CAMELS LOST ON THE TREK FROM KUFRA TO ARKENU (SEE
TEXT, PAGE 270) [photo page 252]
MOHAMMED EL ABED'S HOUSE IN KUFRA
Hanging from the tripods are sheepskins
of water left to cool in the shade, and beneath them are shallow copper
pans. In the foreground is a teapot. [photo page 253]
FOR THE TREK INTO THE UNKNOWN
The route from this point to Erdi, by
way of Arkenu and Ouenat, had never before been traversed by one from
the outside world. [photo page 253]
ROBIN THAT HAD FALLEN EXHAUSTED ON ITS WAY FROM EQUATORIAL AFRICA TO
EUROPE TO SPEND THE SUMMER
The walking stick, with a brass ferule
and an ivory knob, was mistaken by some of the blacks for a gun. In his
right hand the author is holding a glass of water from which the bird
has just drunk (see text, page 247). [photo page 254]
With the Sara district now among the explored
places of the desert, there was only a short strip of untraversed
territory lying between it and Kufra.
I thereupon determined to cut across from Kufra by
an unfrequented route which might lead to the lost oases of Arkenu and
Ouenat. There had long been a tradition that these oases existed in or
near the southwest corner of Egypt. On a map published by Justus Perthes,
of Gotha, in 1892, a small unnamed oasis and well were indicated in
latitude 21º 51' and longitude 23º 3', and another uninhabited oasis,
unnamed, about thirty miles due east.
It is presumed that both these oases had been
placed on the map as the result of vague Arab statements; for, according
to all available records, they had never visited by an explorer. Indeed,
their very existence was so doubtful that they had not been shown on the
maps either of the English or of the French General Staff.
In Mr. W. J. Harding King's paper of 1913, on "The
Libyan Desert from Native Information," there is a statement to the
effect that he had heard of a place called Owana, or Owanat, halfway
along a road from Merga to Kufra, where there was a well and green grass
after rain. Mr. King placed the oasis at a distance of more than 80
miles from the nearer of the two oases shown on the German map.
If these oases could be found I knew that they
would prove of
exceptional value to my country, for they would provide a possible new
route of desert travel from Egypt into regions of the Libyan Desert
which are still unexplored.
APPROACHING ARKENU EARLY IN THE MORNING
Sunlight piercing a gap in the mountain
wall throws a white streak across the sands resembling water. [photo